B09: Tutorial 5 – Summary

  • (As mentioned before, if anyone wants to volunteer to do summaries, that will help them get posted sooner than my looking for free time! Shoot me an email).
  • As announced last week, participation reflection grades will be returned by the 18th. The next submission window has been pushed back to accommodate the later-than-planned return. Feedback will be posted on the week of the 19th through C’s website.
  • C will have office hours on the Monday the 26th after the break, in room 101 of the Philosophy Portable, from 11.30am to 1.30pm (the professor has cancelled tutorials that week). Come with your thoughts and questions!
  • C began with a summary of content as usual. They then shared thoughts why philosophy is not “more subjective” than other disciplines, and how in almost every discipline there isn’t a right answer, just “better” answers and methodologies. So too, there are better answers and methodologies in philosophy (styles of argumentation, supported conclusions, etc). We spent the remainder of tutorial thinking about philosophical methodologies a little bit by thinking about how philosophers usually think about argumentation. See below.
  • Handout:
    • Side one: Practice questions (these are NOT from the midterm question set, because I cannot give concrete advice on questions that could show up on the midterm). We did not cover these in tutorial in detail.
      • These are not questions from the midterm study sheet. The boxes are not a suggestion of answer length. This is just a handout to make us start thinking about answers and support.
      • Why is moral disagreement a problem for cultural relativism?
      • What is paternalism? Is this a problem for Rossian principleism?
      • Consider the claim ‘most people believe it is permissible to screen embryos for disabilities.’ Is this an example of the descriptive sense of morality or the normative sense of morality?
      • Reflect: What are our answers missing? What do other people have that we don’t? How could we improve our answers? If we didn’t know the answers, what strategies should we take to look for them?
    • Side two: We spent tutorial on this side of the handout, talking through how philosophers usually think about argumentation, and the language they sometimes use to talk about them. These are not strict rules. We don’t need to know technical terms unless they’re in the slides. They’re just ways of helping us to start thinking about argumentation.
      • Arguments are usually evaluated based on (i) how convincing the individual claims are, and (ii) how well the claims support their conclusion. (Premise, Conclusion; Deductive, Valid, Sound; Inductive, Strong, Cogent.) Generally: think of content and structure; convincing and supportive claims. Truth and likelihood is a property of claims, premises, conclusions, not arguments. Logic and Rhetoric are two of the main disciplines that study argumentation.
      • Assume our reader doesn’t already agree with the things we believe. Give them reasons to accept what we have to say. Not everything is obvious to everyone.
      • Language is important: there are debates over how we should understand words. Remember tutorial two: “health”. Be careful with technical terms; avoid synonyms.
      • Some possible ways of objecting: invalid; unsound; counterexamples; counter-evidence; insufficient evidence; too narrow in scope; entails undesirable or unacceptable consequences; showing how alternative theories or arguments are more desirable; demonstrate impracticality; violates methodological, ethical, or social norms; and so on.
      • Some possible ways of supporting: demonstrations of application, importance, practicality; examples, data, arguments for premises; objecting to arguments against premises or entailments; showing how other alternatives are less desirable; moral or social reasons to accept claims; and so on.
      • We don’t always have to write or defend what we believe, especially when we don’t have strong evidence or reasons for our beliefs (these are assignments not confessions)
      • Midterm: feel free to underline important things; use I, me, my; etc.

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