Ethical Realism

May 15, 2012

Do Default Positions Exist?

The term “default position” refers to a belief (or lack of belief) that is preferable prior to debate or before any evidence is considered. Many people claim that some belief (or lack thereof) are default positions, so everyone who disagrees with those positions has the burden of proof. What exactly is a default position, and do default positions exist? (more…)

May 6, 2012

What is the Burden of Proof?

Filed under: epistemology,philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:52 am
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One of the most confusing topics regarding argumentation and rationality is what we call the “burden of proof.” What is it? Who has a burden of proof? I will argue that there are two kinds of burden of proof—(1) a principle of debate and (2) a principle of rationality. These two principles are similar but there are important differences. As a principle of debate, the burden of proof determines who needs to prove their assertions. As a principle of rationality, it determines what beliefs are irrational without further evidence in their favor. (more…)

January 18, 2012

Beliefs are Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Many people equate “justified” with “justification”—they think beliefs are justified if and only if we give a good justification for them. A sign of this attitude is found in statements such as, “We should only believe something if we can observe it’s true.” I will explain that not all our beliefs require justifications to be justified because (a) we have justified beliefs that we can’t give justifications for, (b) such an assumption is self-defeating, and (c) such an assumption would lead to an infinite regress or vicious circularity. (more…)

December 20, 2011

Five Tips For Better Debates

Debate can be an educational opportunity (for hopefully at least one participant), but many people find it to be a “waste of time.” This is likely due to the fact that many people have bad habits and know very little about how to debate well. Nonetheless, the Internet gives us new opportunities to debate using message boards, blogs, and so on. I want to encourage people to debate informally in everyday conversation whether face-to-face or online, and I will discuss five argumentative virtues that can help us have better debates—charity, relevance, clarity, modesty, and justification. These virtues apply to any sort of debate including philosophical essays, but I will also discuss certain flaws I’ve encountered in informal debates. (more…)

June 8, 2010

An Argument Against God, a Teapot, and Garvey’s Objection Part 2

Filed under: epistemology,metaphysics,philosophy — JW Gray @ 2:33 am
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Read part 1 first.

About a week ago I discussed Bertrand Russell’s teapot argument that concludes that we should disbelieve in God. In particular, I posted some objections to an essay by Brian Garvey, “Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot,” which attempted to show that Russell’s argument was not a serious one. Garvey was nice enough to defend his essay and we had a short debate, which can be found here.1 I will now attempt to explain Garvey’s response to my objections and make it clear why I am not satisfied by his response. I don’t know if the teapot argument succeeds as a sufficient reason to disbelieve in God, but I find the argument to be a threat to theism, and in need of further research. I will now explain my current position and attempt to refute Garvey’s responses. (more…)

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