Ethical Realism

June 28, 2011

The Search for Truth

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 4:00 am
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Some people at this point might have assumed that philosophy is the quest for truth. This might be true, but philosophy requires nuance and we need to realize that philosophy might not always need to give us “the truth” to be important in our lives. Even if philosophy doesn’t give us “the truth,” it still gives us better and more justified beliefs, which are often more accurate than other beliefs that aren’t based on philosophical thought. (more…)

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June 26, 2011

Notes on Business Ethics Ebook (PDF) (Updated 6/12/2013)

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:47 am
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I have organized some of my essays (blog entries) to make a free ebook that tries to answer the question, How does morality relate to the business world? I discuss moral philosophy and how various moral principles seem to apply to business. (more…)

June 19, 2011

Proving an Argument Is Logically Valid

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:05 am
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I have discussed the importance of understanding logical form and how to create formal counterexamples. Understanding logic well is a lot easier when we know something about logical validity, and one way to better understand logical validity is to consider an argument that proves an argument to be valid. If we can know why an argument can be valid, then we can know more about logical validity in general. I will now produce a proof of logical validity here. It can take some time to understand the proof, so you might want to take your time to read it carefully. (more…)

June 17, 2011

Examples of Valid & Invalid Logical Reasoning

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:29 am
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I have described formal logic, said a little about why it’s important for proper reasoning, and described how we can prove arguments to be logically invalid through counterexamples. I will now give examples of valid and invalid logical arguments to help illustrate the difference and help us learn how to identify the difference in everyday life. I will give 10 examples of arguments that could be either valid or invalid, but I won’t give the answers to the examples right away to give you a chance to think about the answers on your own. Then I will give the answers in another section below and justify my answer using counterexamples when possible. I will also prove that various argument forms are valid. It’s possible that the arguments below make use of poor reasoning that is unrelated to logical validity, but logical validity is my only concern here. (more…)

Logical Validity & Counterexamples

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:36 am
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I have already described formal logic and explained why it’s important for proper reasoning. One of the best ways to learn formal logic is to take a logic class. However, we don’t have to take a class just to learn the basics and improve our intuitive grasp of formal logic. What I want to do here is explain how to use counterexamples to prove an argument to be logically invalid. This can help improve our understanding of logic and help us prove arguments to be logically invalid. (more…)

June 16, 2011

Examples of Errors in Reasoning

One common way to learn about good reasoning is to pick apart arguments by spotting errors in reasoning and applying our knowledge of epistemic principles in various contexts. In other words, we can improve our rational thinking through practice. Once we can better criticize other people’s arguments, we can learn to better criticize our own. I will describe twenty examples of poor reasoning and one example of good reasoning, but I won’t immediately explain why I think the examples use poor reasoning. Instead, my answers will be listed in a separate section. You are encouraged to think about why each of these examples are examples of poor or good reasoning before reading my answers. If two arguments are presented in an example, then consider why there are errors in the reasoning of the objection rather than the positive argument. It is possible that my answers are mistaken or incomplete, but I will defend them. It’s possible for more than one error to be made, but my focus will be on the most serious failings of each argument rather than the less serious ones. Additionally, the focus here is not on false premises or conclusions as much as poor reasoning. That’s not to say that false assumptions don’t play an important role in poor reasoning in general. (more…)

June 14, 2011

Philosophical Thought & an Illustration of a Supporting Argument

It’s often a lot easier to pick apart someone else’s argument than to come up with a supporting argument of your own. Additionally, it’s usually a lot harder to present a philosophical argument for a controversial position than an uncontroversial one. It’s not as hard to argue that bread is nutritious or that killing people is wrong than it is to argue that God exists or abortion is wrong. One way to learn more about how to create supporting arguments of your own is to read philosophy and examine the thoughts of a philosophical thinker who develops such an argument. It’s a good idea to pay close attention to the kinds of questions and answers a philosophical thinker comes up with. I will try to do that here and present the thoughts involved with developing a supporting argument. In particular, I will discuss an argument against the existence of ghosts. (more…)

June 7, 2011

Philosophical Thought & An Illustration of An Objection

We can learn how to think more like a philosopher by engaging in philosophical debate, reading philosophy, thinking about the nature of philosophical argumentation, and examining the thought process of philosophers. A philosophy professor can be very helpful as a guide to help people engage in philosophical argumentation by helping them verbalize their arguments and avoid fallacious reasoning. Since I am writing about philosophical argumentation, I am not able to help guide your philosophical thoughts as you engage in philosophical debate. However, I can help you peer into the thoughts of someone who engages in philosophical thought. In particular, I will discuss the thinking involved with constructing a philosophical objection. (more…)

June 2, 2011

Writing Philosophical Arguments

Filed under: epistemology,ethics — JW Gray @ 4:38 am
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Philosophy isn’t just a form of creative writing. It’s an attempt to use good reasoning, and writing good philosophical arguments requires an understanding of good reasoning. Most people have an intuitive grasp of what good reasoning is, but this intuitive grasp is often insufficient. Our reasoning can be improved from experience and philosophy education. Experience writing philosophical arguments can help us think more philosophically. I will discuss three steps of writing good philosophical arguments: (more…)

June 1, 2011

Four Argument Strategies

Argument strategies are various ways we present our arguments and justifications. Some arguments are simple deductions and generalizations based on our experiences. However, there are a variety of other argument strategies, and a better understanding of them can help us learn to argue more effectively. Argument strategies are usually compatible, and we can often present our justifications using a variety of argument strategies. I will discuss four argument strategies and give examples of these strategies used within the philosophical literature : (more…)

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