What is Philosophy?

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PHIL 201
Study Guide Lesson 1: What is Philosophy?
1)Three preliminary qualifications in studying philosophy – 1) it is impossible to distinguish rigidly and conclusively between what counts as a philosophical problem and what does not – borderline cases / 2) none of the characteristics we shall examine is unique to philosophy; each by itself may be found in another discipline (approximations that, when applied collectively, describe reasonably adequately a broad range of philosophical issues) / 3) when it comes to describing what all (or nearly all) philosophical problems have in common, it is useful to bear in mind that philosophy always begins in wonder (asking what everything is made of or debating the ethical implications of genetic manipulation) – desire to know more than just platitudes dictated by authorities, to question what may seem obvious to others, and to respect the process of inquiry that may lead to unusual and uncomfortable places

2)The characteristics of a “fundamental idea” - Fundamental ideas are usually general (Christianity more general than Protestantism, yet less general than religion). As a rule, fundamental ideas are not only general, they are also pervasive (depends on extent to which an idea is found in different contexts). Fundamental ideas are found in such diverse areas as religion and science. * Philosophical interest with their meaning, truth (basic concern with Philosophy – a belief about the nature or existence of something, supported by the best reasons), and interrelatedness.

3)The three areas involved in philosophical problems - Philosophical problems involve questions about the meaning, truth, and logical connections of fundamental ideas that resist solution by the empirical sciences or by appeal to religious authority – 1) Questions of meaning – what is an infinite spirit; if it is infinite, is it literally in all things; is consciousness definable; what is a direct experience of God / 2) Questions of truth or rational defensibility – of the two competing interpretations, which is correct (which most plausibly describes mystical experiences); are there any legitimate mystical experiences at all / 3) Questions about the logical relations or connections between ideas – what is the logical relation between what I say I experience and what others say I experience, particularly if our descriptions conflict * two beliefs are logically related if the truth or falsity of one determines or depends upon the truth of the other – linked by a usually unstated if-then inference

4)The two types of logical relations – 1) Logical Incompatibility – if two beliefs are incompatible, then both cannot be true. If one is true, the other must be false. > If Bill is a feminist, then it is false that he is opposed to greater equality for women. / 2) Logical Implication – If A implies B, then B could be an assumption or a consequence of A. – Two beliefs logically imply each other when the truth of one requires the truth of the other. > If Martha lives in a democracy, then necessarily she must enjoy a reasonable measure of free speech (assumption or consequence of democracy).

5)Contingent relations – Contingently related beliefs carry no necessary truth connection. If either is true, the other could be true or could be false. The truth or falsity of one does not logically imply anything about the truth or falsity of the other, although it may suggest some connection. – Sometimes involve relations of cause and effect, which may be strong or weak. > Americans are fearing more for their safety & Americans are prepared to give up some of their freedoms

6)Characteristics of empirical claims – Broadly speaking, an empirical issue is one that can be solved by experience, either directly by observation or indirectly by experimentation. – Directly – observe what is the case > Indirect – normally involves advancing a hypothesis, a possible though unproven explanation of something –...
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