Ethical Realism

December 29, 2014

Writing Philosophy Essays

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:06 am
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Philosophy essays are a bit different from other types of essays, but there aren’t necessarily any strict rules about how to write them best, and there are a variety of different types of philosophy essays. I will discuss three main types of philosophy papers: (a) argumentative, (b) speculative, and (c) interpretative. I will also discuss some important elements of philosophy essays, such as the idea of philosophical content and what the introduction should be like. I hope that thinking about various types of philosophy essays and various elements of philosophy essays will help people improve their philosophical writing. (more…)

August 23, 2013

Why Care About Philosophy?

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:22 am
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The most popular page on this site has been Philosophy is Important for quite some time, but that page has now been replaced with a new piece I recently wrote (that uses the same name). I was not convinced that the old piece deserved all the attention it got, but it is certainly an important issue.

The older piece that used to be there is now a PDF and can be seen here: 11 Reasons Philosophy is Important.

July 8, 2013

Unstated Premises

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 5:18 am
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I will discuss what unstated premises are, how to identify them, and how to determine what they are.

What are unstated premises?

Unstated premises are premises that a deductive argument requires, but are not explicitly stated. Deductive arguments are popular and can be rationally persuasive, but people don’t always state all of the premises that their deductive arguments require. These premises can be called “unstated premises,” “missing premises,” or “hidden assumptions.” For example, consider the following argument: (more…)

June 13, 2013

Good Arguments

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 1:15 am
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What’s the point of a rational argument? To give someone a good reason to believe something. A sufficiently good argument gives us a good reason to believe something is true. It is better for us to have beliefs that are supported by good arguments in the sense that they are more likely true based on our limited understanding of the world, but it is possible for them to be false. (more…)

March 21, 2013

What You Need From Propositional Logic Free Ebook (PDF)

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 3:26 am
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Some of my key blog posts about propositional logic have been organized a free ebook. This ebook can greatly help people understand the importance of logically valid arguments and better understand logical form.

Abstract

The focus of this book is propositional logic. I discuss the meaning of “logic,” the importance of logic, logical connectives, truth tables, natural deduction, and rules of inference.

March 6, 2013

Why Logic is Important

Filed under: epistemology,philosophy — JW Gray @ 5:56 am
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Recommended reading: What is Logic?

Why is logic education important? The main question here is what the real point of logic education is. The real point of logic is not to teach people how to be logic professors, or to increase test scores, or to impress potential employers. Philosophers and mathematicians were very interested in understanding logic long before it was taught in universities precisely because of how important it is. Why is logic so important? The answer is that logic helps us better understand good arguments—it helps us differentiate between good and bad reasons to believe something. We should want to have well-justified beliefs. We want to know what we should believe. Understanding good argumentation helps us understand when we should believe something, and understanding logic helps us understand good argumentation. (more…)

February 12, 2013

Arguments Are Important

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 1:38 am
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At some point you are likely to hear about how giving arguments is rude and we would all get along better without arguing. Arguing is often thought to be a shouting match or hostile disagreement of some sort. However, argumentation is central to thinking rationally and critical thinking. The success of natural science could not exist without it. Yes, some arguments are disrespectful, but not all of them are. (more…)

January 22, 2013

How to Have a Rational Debate

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:22 am
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It can be difficult to find anyone willing and able to engage in rational debate, but it is something I think we should aspire to having. Many people refuse to engage in rational debate because they find it offensive or they would rather engage in name calling. I believe that rational debate has a lot to offer. It can help us better understand how to reason properly and to develop critical thinking skills. Rational debate is important to everyone who wants to know what they should believe about a controversial issue because we need to know if there’s a good argument in favor of a belief. (more…)

January 19, 2013

Logic Part 4: How To Make Truth Tables

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 1:07 am
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Truth tables are an important tool for evaluating statements and arguments. We can create our own truth tables using following steps:

  1. Translate statements of ordinary language.

  2. Break all complex statements into smaller parts.

  3. Determine how many columns are required.

  4. Determine how many rows are required.

  5. Determine the truth values of statement letters.

  6. Determine the truth values of complex statements.

I will illustrate how to follow these steps by using an example. In particular, I will show how we can make a truth table of an argument to find out if the argument is logically valid. (more…)

January 14, 2013

Logic Part 3: Truth Tables

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 7:15 am
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Truth tables are visual aids to help us determine all the truth value possibilities of various statements. Learning about truth tables can help us better understand logic. Truth tables are used to define logical connectives, and to help us identify various distinctions (such as tautologies, self-contradictions, consistent statements, equivalent statements, and valid arguments).

(more…)

December 31, 2012

What is Argument Mapping?

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:26 am
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You can download a PDF ebook of this introduction to argument mapping here:

Introduction

Argument maps are visual representations of arguments to help people better understand them. A meta-analysis of various studies found that classes with lots of argument map practice are the most effective type of critical thinking class to help improve critical thinking skills. (more…)

December 6, 2012

Argument Maps vs Other Argument Diagrams

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 7:16 am
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I believe that argument maps as I understand them are superior to other types of argument diagrams. I will describe four different kinds of argument diagrams, then explain why argument maps seem to be the best. (more…)

October 22, 2012

Logic Part 2: Translation

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 11:01 pm
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This is Part 2. You should see What is Logic? and Logic Part 1: What is Propositional Logic? before reading this.

‘Translation’ refers to the act of converting statements of natural language to statements of a symbolic logical system. In this case I will discuss how to convert statements of English into statements of propositional logic. Translation requires us to know logical connectives used in propositional logic, and ways we use logical connectives in English. (more…)

Logic Part 1: What is Propositional Logic?

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 8:40 pm
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I have briefly discussed the meaning of “logic” and various parts of logic. I am now going to discuss the most important parts of propositional logic in greater detail. This will include the following chapters: (more…)

October 10, 2012

What is Logic?

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 6:10 am
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Logic is a domain of philosophy concerned with rational criteria that applies to argumentation. Logic includes a study of argumentation within natural language, consistent reasoning, valid argumentation, and errors in reasoning. It is divided into two main domains: Formal and informal logic. (more…)

October 1, 2012

More Philosophy Definitions Part 3

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 9:19 am
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I worked more on the Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary (a work in progress). What follows are several new definitions that will be added to it. Let me know if anything should be improved. (more…)

September 9, 2012

10 Myths About Logic

Logic is greatly misunderstood. Not only do very few people understand logic properly, but even critical thinking educators believe false things about logic. I will discuss ten myths (false beliefs) I believe many people have about logic. (more…)

September 4, 2012

More Philosophy Definitions Part 2

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 11:05 am
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I have continued working on the Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary (a work in progress). There will be many corrections coming soon in addition to many new definitions. You can let me know if any of these definitions can be improved or if I am still missing an important philosophy term. I decided to define a lot more terms used in logic, and many more can still be added. The new definitions I am planning on adding are the following: (more…)

August 22, 2012

Not All Good Arguments Are Logically Sound Part 2

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 12:18 am
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See Part 1 here. (I advise you to read part 1 first.)

One reason that not all good arguments are logically sound is because good arguments used in science are inductive, and inductive arguments are not meant to be logically sound. However, not all good deductive arguments are logically sound either. There is a sense that deductive arguments would ideally be logically sound, but some deductive arguments have sufficiently justified premises, even if those premises aren’t known to be true for certain. A good deductive argument must be logically valid, and it must have sufficiently justified premises. Even so, not all good deductive arguments are logically sound. (more…)

August 5, 2012

More Philosophy Definitions Part 1

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 4:21 am
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I have been working a lot more on the Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary (a work in progress). There will be many corrections coming soon in addition to many new definitions. You can let me know if any of these definitions should be improved or if I am still missing an important philosophy term. The new definitions I am planning on adding are the following: (more…)

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