2012 was Ethical Realism’s most successful year and I believe that is partially because some of my new articles were much more popular than usual. Other people linking to my material was a great help, and was greatly appreciated. What were Ethical Realism’s ten best articles in 2012? I suggest the following:
Find out a little about what you’d learn in a logic class. People use the word “logic” a lot, but they are rarely familiar with the concept of “logic” used by logicians. The term as logicians and philosophers understand it is quite important and has a lot to do with thinking in better ways. This seems to be my most popular post of all time, which surprised me quite a bit. I didn’t expect so many people to want to learn about logic. It gives me hope for the human race. (This was mentioned in Stone Links in the New York Times.)
I found out that telling people that not all good arguments are logically sound makes them angry. It doesn’t mean that logic isn’t important. You need to understand logic to even know why I’d say such a thing. I suspect this is my second most popular post of all time. (This was also mentioned in Stone Links.) I also wrote a sequel—Not All Good Arguments Are Logically Sound Part 2.
I was surprised when someone told me that facts didn’t exist. Based on the concept of “facts” often used by philosophers, I thought it was obvious that facts do exist. This explains the philosophical concept and why I think they exist. This is also one of my most popular posts (perhaps in part because it was mentioned by The Browser).
After finding out about evidence indicating that argument mapping classes are the most effective at teaching critical thinking, I decided to learn more about it. I then decided I wanted to help other people find out about what argument mapping has to offer. In particular, it can be very helpful at helping us make certain distinctions. You might also be interested in knowing the differences between Argument Maps vs Other Argument Diagrams.
I discussed common false beliefs people have about logic. The fact that few people learn much about logic really does have a strong impact. If they took logic classes, these are some of the myths I hope would be debunked.
The effects of poor reasoning, cognitive biases, manipulation, and propaganda are widespread. One of the reasons we need philosophy and logic is to help fight against these potentially harmful forces.
A major project I gave myself this year was to define several philosophical concepts in a way I thought just about everyone could understand, and to organize the definitions into a dictionary. This post was written as I was making progress with that project, which is now available as the Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary. The dictionary will be updated again soon, and more updates will probably be made in the future. I found out that there seems to be an endless number or terms used by philosophers.
Although philosophy has made many wonderful contributions to the world (such as the invention of natural science and computers), it is quite possible that sophistry has an even greater influence on civilization. And I don’t think that’s a good thing.
I’ve heard atheists talk about “default positions” quite a bit, and I became curious about exactly what they thought a “default position” was. They often say that atheism is the “default position.” That led me to study the work of one of the first atheists to use the term.
I realized that default positions are intimately tied to what philosophers call the “burden of proof.” Atheists often say that theists have the “burden of proof.” The assumption is that it is rational to be an atheist until the existence of a god is proven.