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Philosophy Social Science homework help

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1100 words

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The only reference is the textbook (Chapter 1 from Page 21 to Page 30).

Learning from Arguments
An Introduction to Philosophy

Daniel Z. Korman
Winter 2022 Edition

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Table of Contents

Preface for Students

Preface for Instructors

Introduction

1. Can God Allow Suffering?

2. Why You Should Bet on God

3. No Freedom

4. You Know Nothing

5. What Makes You You

6. Don’t Fear the Reaper

7. Taxation is Immoral

8. Abortion is Immoral

9. Eating Animals is Immoral

10. What Makes Things Right

Appendix A: Logic

Appendix B: Writing

Appendix C: Theses and Arguments

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Preface for Students

I’m going to argue that you have no free will. I’m going to argue for some
other surprising things too, for instance that death isn’t bad for you,
taxation is immoral, and you can’t know anything whatsoever about the
world around you. I’m also going to argue for some things you’re probably
not going to like: that abortion is immoral, you shouldn’t eat meat, and God
doesn’t exist.
The arguments aren’t my own. I didn’t come up with them. I don’t even
accept all of them: there are two chapters whose conclusions I accept, three
I’m undecided about, and five I’m certain can’t be right. (I’ll let you guess
which are which.) This isn’t merely for the sake of playing devil’s advocate.
Rather, the idea is that the best way to appreciate what’s at stake in
philosophical disagreements is to study and engage with serious
arguments against the views you’d like to hold.
Each chapter offers a sustained argument for some controversial thesis,
specifically written for an audience of beginners. The aim is to introduce
newcomers to the dynamics of philosophical argumentation, using some of
the arguments standardly covered in an introductory philosophy course,
but without the additional hurdles one encounters when reading the
primary sources of the arguments: challenging writing, obscure jargon, and
references to unfamiliar books, philosophers, or schools of thought.
The different chapters aren’t all written from the same perspective. This
is obvious from a quick glance at the opening chapters: the first chapter
argues that you shouldn’t believe in God, while the second argues that you
should. You’ll also find that chapters 5 and 6 contain arguments pointing
to different conclusions about the relationship between people and their
bodies, and chapter 7 contains arguments against the very theory of
morality that’s defended in chapter 10. So, you will be exposed to a variety
of different philosophical perspectives, and you should be on the lookout
for ways in which the arguments in one chapter provide the resources for
resisting arguments in other chapters.
And while there are chapters arguing both for and against belief in God,
that isn’t the case for other topics we’ll cover. For instance, there’s a chapter
arguing that you don’t have free will, but no chapter arguing that you do
have free will. That doesn’t mean that you’ll only get to hear one side of the
argument. Along the way you will be exposed to many of the standard
objections to the views and arguments I’m advancing, and you can decide
for yourself whether those objections are convincing. Those who need help
finding the flaws in the reasoning (or ideas for paper topics) can look to the
reflection questions at the end of each chapter for some clues.

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As I said, the arguments advanced in the book are not my own, and at
the end of each chapter I point out the original sources of the arguments. In
some chapters, the central arguments have a long history, and the
formulations I use can’t be credited to any one philosopher in particular.
Other chapters, however, are more directly indebted to the work of specific
contemporary philosophers, reproducing the contents of their books and
articles (though often with some modifications and simplifications). In
particular, chapter 7 closely follows the opening chapters of Michael
Huemer’s The Problem of Political Authority; chapter 8 reproduces the central
arguments of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” and Don
Marquis’s “Why Abortion is Immoral”; and chapter 9 draws heavily from
Dan Lowe’s “Common Arguments for the Moral Acceptability of Eating
Meat” and Alastair Norcross’s “Puppies, Pigs, and People”.
I’m grateful to Jeff Bagwell, Matt Davidson, Nikki Evans, Jason
Fishbein, Bill Hartmann, Colton Heiberg, İrem Kurtsal, Jeonggyu Lee,
Clayton Littlejohn, David Mokriski, Seán Pierce, and Neil Sinhababu for
helpful suggestions, and to the Facebook Hivemind for help selecting the
further readings for the various chapters. Special thanks are due to Chad
Carmichael, Jonathan Livengood, and Daniel Story for extensive feedback
on a previous draft of the book, and to the students in my 2019 Freshman
Seminar: Shreya Acharya, Maile Buckman, Andrea Chavez, Dylan Choi,
Lucas Goefft, Mino Han, PK Kottapalli, Mollie Kraus, Mia Lombardo, Dean
Mantelzak, Sam Min, Vivian Nguyen, Ariana Pacheco Lara, Kaelen
Perrochet, Rijul Singhal, Austin Tam, Jennifer Vargas, Kerry Wang, and
Lilly Witonsky. Finally, thanks to Renée Jorgensen for permission to use her
portrait of the great 20th century philosopher and logician Ruth Barcan
Marcus on the cover. You can see some more of her portraits of
philosophers here: www.reneebolinger.com/portraits.html

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Preface for Instructors

Learning from Arguments is a novel approach to teaching Introduction to
Philosophy. It presents accessible versions of key philosophical arguments,
in a form that students can emulate in their own writing, and with the
primary aim of cultivating an understanding of the dynamics of
philosophical argumentation.
The book contains ten core chapters, covering:

1. The problem of evil
2. Pascal’s wager
3. Free will and determinism
4. Cartesian skepticism and the problem of induction
5. Personal identity
6. Death
7. Taxes
8. Abortion (covering the violinist and future-like-ours arguments)
9. The morality of meat-eating
10. Ethical theory (with a focus on utilitarianism)

Additionally, there is an introductory chapter explaining what arguments
are and surveying some common argumentative strategies, an appendix on
logic explaining the mechanics and varieties of valid arguments, and an
appendix providing detailed advice for writing philosophy papers.
Each of the ten core chapters offers a sustained argument for some
controversial thesis, specifically written for an audience of beginners. The
aim is to introduce newcomers to the dynamics of philosophical
argumentation, using some of the arguments standardly covered in an
introductory philosophy course, but without the additional hurdles one
encounters when reading the primary sources of the arguments:
challenging writing, specialized jargon, and references to unfamiliar books,
philosophers, or schools of thought.
Since the book is aimed at absolute beginners, I often address objections
that would only ever occur to a beginner and ignore objections and nuances
that would only ever occur to someone already well-versed in these issues.
Theses defended in the chapters often are not ones that I myself accept.
Instead, decisions about which position is defended in the chapter were
made with an eye to pedagogical effectiveness.
Instructors will find the book easy to teach from. The chapters are self-
standing with no cross-referencing, and may be taught in any order. The
central arguments of each chapter are already extracted in valid,
premise/conclusion form, ready to be put up on the board or screen and
debated. The chapters also contain plenty of arguments that haven’t been
extracted in this way, but that are self-contained in a single paragraph,
making for moderately challenging—but not too challenging—argument
reconstruction exercises. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter
can easily be incorporated into class discussion.

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The book can be used in different ways in the classroom. Instructors
may decide to take on the persona of the author of the chapter, leaving it to
the students to find a way of resisting the arguments—which I have found
to be an enjoyable and effective way of teaching the material. Or they may
use the arguments in the chapter as a jumping-off point for presenting the
standard positions and responses. They may wish to supplement the
chapters with the original sources of the arguments or with readings
representing competing philosophical positions, possibly drawn from the
list of further readings at the end of each chapter.
Don’t worry about Learning from Arguments being too “one-sided”. It’s
true that whichever view is being defended in the chapter always gets the
last word. But along the way, students are exposed to clear and charitable
presentations of the standard objections to the views and arguments
advanced in the chapter, and can decide for themselves whether the
chapter’s responses to those objections are convincing. Students who need
help finding the flaws in the reasoning (or ideas for paper topics) can look
to the reflection questions at the end of each chapter for clues about the
most promising places to resist the arguments.
Additionally, I think instructors will find there to be significant
pedagogical advantages to a “one-sided” approach. When beginners are
presented with a full menu of available views, surveying the pros and cons
of each, this can sometimes give the wrong impression: that, in philosophy,
all views are equally defensible, that it’s all a matter of opinion, and that it’s
up to you to pick and choose whichever view you like best. What the
approach in Learning from Arguments emphasizes is that it’s not that easy. If
you want to say that abortion is permissible or that people have free will,
you have to work for it, identifying some flaw in the arguments for the
opposite conclusion. In my experience, students find this sort of challenge
exciting.

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Introduction

The aim of this book is to introduce you to the topics and methods of
philosophy by advancing a series of arguments for controversial
philosophical conclusions. That’s what I’ll do in the ten chapters that
follow. In this Introduction, I’ll give you an overview of what I’ll be arguing
for in the different chapters (section 1), explain what an argument is
(sections 2-3), and identify some common argumentative strategies
(sections 4-7). I’ll close by saying a few words about what philosophy is.

1. Detailed Contents
As I explained in the preface, each chapter is written “in character”,
representing a specific perspective (not necessarily my own!) on the issue
in question. This is not to say that they are all written from the same
perspective. You should not expect the separate chapters to fit together into
a coherent whole. I realize that this may cause some confusion. But you
should take this as an invitation to engage with the book in the way that I
intend for you to engage with it: by questioning the claims being made and
deciding for yourself whether the reasons and arguments offered in
support of those claims are convincing.
In chapter 1, “Can God Allow Suffering?”, I advance an argument that
an all-powerful and morally perfect God would not allow all the suffering
we find in the world, and therefore must not exist. I address a number of
attempts to explain why God might allow suffering, for instance that it’s
necessary for appreciating the good things that we have, or for building
valuable character traits, or for having free will. I also address the response
that God has hidden reasons for allowing suffering that we cannot expect
to understand.
In chapter 2, “Why You Should Bet on God”, I advance an argument
that you should believe in God because it is in your best interest: you’re
putting yourself in the running for an eternity in heaven without risking
losing anything of comparable value. I defend the argument against a
variety of objections, for instance that it is incredibly unlikely that God
exists, that merely believing in God isn’t enough to gain entry into heaven,
and that it’s impossible to change one’s beliefs at will.
In chapter 3, “No Freedom”, I advance two arguments for the
conclusion that no one ever acts freely. The first turns on the idea that all of
our actions are determined by something that lies outside our control,
namely the strength of our desires. The second turns on the idea that our
actions are all consequences of exceptionless, “deterministic” laws of
nature. In response to the concern that the laws may not be deterministic, I
argue that undetermined, random actions wouldn’t be free either. Finally,

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I address attempts to show that there can be free will even in a deterministic
universe.
In chapter 4, “You Know Nothing”, I argue for two skeptical
conclusions. First, I advance an argument that we cannot know anything
about the future. That’s so, I argue, because all of our reasoning about the
future relies on an assumption that we have no good reason to accept,
namely that the future will resemble the past. Second, I advance an
argument that we cannot know anything about how things presently are in
the world around us, since we cannot rule out the possibility that we are
currently having an incredibly vivid dream.
In chapter 5, “What Makes You You”, I criticize a number of attempts to
answer the question of personal identity: under what conditions are a
person at one time and a person at another time one and the same person?
I reject the suggestion that personal identity is a matter of having the same
body, on the basis of an argument from conjoined twins and an argument
from the possibility of two people swapping bodies. I reject the suggestion
that personal identity can be defined in terms of psychological factors on
the strength of “fission” cases in which a single person’s mental life is
transferred into two separate bodies.
In chapter 6, “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, I advance an argument that death
cannot be bad for you, since you don’t experience any painful sensations
while dead, and that since death is not bad for you it would be irrational to
fear it. I argue that you don’t experience any painful sensations while dead
by way of arguing that physical organisms cease to be conscious when they
die and that you are a physical organism. I also address the suggestion that
what makes death bad for you is that it deprives you of pleasant
experiences you would otherwise have had.
In chapter 7, “Taxation is Immoral”, I argue that it is wrong for
governments to tax or imprison their citizens, on the grounds that these
practices are not relevantly different from a vigilante locking vandals in her
basement and robbing her neighbors to pay for her makeshift prison. I
address a variety of putative differences, with special attention to the
suggestion that we have tacitly consented to following the law and paying
taxes and thereby entered into a “social contract” with the government.
In chapter 8, “Abortion is Immoral”, I examine a number of arguments
both for and against the immorality of abortion. I argue that the question
cannot be settled by pointing to the fact that the embryo isn’t self-sufficient
or conscious or rational, nor by pointing to the fact that it has human DNA,
that it is a potential person, or that life begins at conception. I then examine
the argument that abortion is immoral because the embryo has a right to
life, and I show that the argument fails since having a right to life doesn’t
entail having a right to continued use of the mother’s womb. Finally, I

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advance an alternative argument for the immorality of abortion, according
to which this killing, like other killings, is wrong because it deprives its
victim of a valuable future.
In chapter 9, “Eating Animals is Immoral”, I defend the view that it is
immoral to eat meat that comes from so-called “factory farms”. I begin by
criticizing three common reasons for thinking that eating meat is morally
acceptable: because people have always eaten meat, because eating meat is
necessary, and because eating meat is natural. I then argue that eating
factory-farmed meat is immoral, on the grounds that it would be immoral
to raise and slaughter puppies in similar ways and for similar reasons.
In chapter 10, “What Makes Things Right”, I advance a “utilitarian”
theory of morality, according to which the rightness or wrongness of an
action is always entirely a matter of the extent to which it increases or
decreases overall levels of happiness in the world. I defend the theory
against the objection that it wrongly permits killing one person to save five.
Along the way, I consider the ways in which morality is and isn’t subjective
and variable across cultures, and what to say about the notorious “trolley
cases”.
In appendix A, “Logic”, I examine one of the features that makes an
argument a good argument, namely validity. I explain what it means for an
argument to be valid, and I illustrate the notion of validity by presenting
and illustrating four types of valid arguments.
In appendix B, “Writing”, I present a model for writing papers for
philosophy courses: introduce the view or argument you plan to criticize
(section 1), advance your objections (section 2), and address likely
responses to your objections (section 3). I explain the importance of clear
and unpretentious writing that is charitable towards opposing viewpoints;
I offer advice for editing rough drafts; I identify some criteria that
philosophy instructors commonly use when evaluating papers; and I
explain the difference between consulting online sources and plagiarizing
them.
In appendix C, “Theses and Arguments”, I collect together the key
arguments and theses discussed in the book. Readers may find it helpful to
have a printed copy of this appendix at hand, or have it open in a separate
tab, while reading through the chapters.

2. The Elements of Arguments
Let’s begin by having a look at what an argument is. An argument is a
sequence of claims, consisting of premises, a conclusion, and in some cases
one or more subconclusions. The conclusion is what the argument is
ultimately trying to establish, or what’s ultimately being argued for. The
premises are the assumptions that, taken together, are meant to serve as

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reasons for accepting the conclusion. A subconclusion is a claim that is meant
to be established by some subset of the premises but that isn’t itself the
ultimate conclusion of the argument.

As an illustration, consider the following argument:

Against Fearing Death
(FD1) You cease to be conscious when you die
(FD2) If you cease to be conscious when you die, then being dead isn’t

bad for you
(FD3) So, being dead isn’t bad for you
(FD4) If being dead isn’t bad for you, then you shouldn’t fear death
(FD5) So, you shouldn’t fear death

The argument has three premises: FD1, FD2, and FD4. FD5 is the conclusion
of the argument, since that’s what the argument is ultimately trying to
establish. FD3 is a subconclusion. It isn’t the conclusion, since the ultimate
goal of the argument is to establish that you shouldn’t fear death, not that
being dead isn’t bad for you (which is just a step along the way). Nor is it a
premise, since it isn’t merely being assumed. Rather, it’s been argued for: it
is meant to be established by FD1 and FD2.
In this book, you can always tell which claims in the labeled and
indented arguments are premises, conclusions, and subconclusions. The
conclusion is always the final claim in the sequence. The subconclusions are
anything other than the final claim that begins with a “So”. Any claim that
doesn’t begin with “So” is a premise. However, when it comes to unlabeled
arguments—arguments appearing in paragraph form—all bets are off. For
instance, I might say:

Death isn’t bad for you. After all, you cease to be conscious when you
die, and something can’t be bad for you if you’re not even aware of it.
And if that’s right, then you shouldn’t fear death, since it would be
irrational to fear something that isn’t bad for you.

The paragraph begins with a subconclusion, the conclusion shows up right
in the middle of the paragraph, and neither of them is preceded by a “So”.
Here, you have to use some brain-power and clues from the context to
figure out which bits are the basic assumptions (the premises), which bit is
the conclusion, and which bits are mere subconclusions.
All of the labeled arguments in the book are constructed in such a way
that the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises—or, as I
sometimes put it, the conclusion “follows from” the premises. You may or
may not agree with FD1, and you may or may not agree with FD2. But what

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you can’t deny is that FD1 and FD2 together entail FD3. If FD3 is false, then
it must be that either FD1 or FD2 (or both) is false. You would be
contradicting yourself if you accepted FD1 and FD2 but denied FD3.
Because all the arguments are constructed in this way, you cannot reject the
conclusion of any of the labeled arguments in the book while agreeing with
all of the premises. You must find some premise to deny if you do not want
to accept the conclusion. (See Appendix A, “Logic”, for more on how to tell
when a conclusion is a logical consequence of some premises.)

3. Premises and Conditionals
There are no restrictions on which sorts of statements can figure as premises
in an argument. A premise can be a speculative claim like FD1 or a
conceptual truth like FD4. A premise can also be a statement of fact, for
instance that a six-week-old embryo has a beating heart, or it can be a moral
judgment, for instance that a six-week-old embryo has a right to life.
Arguments can have premises that are mere matters of opinion, for instance
that mushrooms are tasty. They can even have premises that are utterly and
obviously false, for instance that the sky is yellow or that 1+1=3. Anything
can be a premise.
That said, an argument is only as strong as its premises. The point of
giving an argument is to persuade people of its conclusion, and an
argument built on dubious, indefensible, or demonstrably false premises is
unlikely to persuade anyone.
Arguments frequently contain premises of the form “if… then…”, like
FD2 and FD4. Such statements are called conditionals, and there are names
for the different parts of a conditional. The bit that comes between the ‘if’
and the ‘then’ is the antecedent of the conditional, and the bit that comes
after the ‘then’ is the consequent of the conditional. Using FD2 as an
illustration, the antecedent is you cease to be conscious when you die, the
consequent is being dead is not bad for you, and the conditional is the whole
claim: if you cease to be conscious when you die then being dead is not bad for you.
(Strictly speaking, conditionals don’t have to be of the form “if…
then…”. They can also be of the form “… only if…”, as in “You should fear
death only if being dead is bad for you”, or of the form “… if …”, as in “You
shouldn’t fear death if being dead isn’t bad for you”.)
Conditionals affirm a link between two claims, and you can agree that
some claims are linked in the way a conditional says they are, even if you
don’t agree with the claims themselves. To see this, consider the following
argument:

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The Drinking Age Argument
(DK1) Kristina is twenty years old
(DK2) If Kristina is twenty years old, then Kristina is not allowed to buy

alcohol
(DK3) So, Kristina is not allowed to buy alcohol

You might object to this argument because you think that Kristina is 22 and
that she is allowed to buy alcohol. Still, you should agree with the
conditional premise DK2: you should agree that being 20 years old and
buying alcohol are linked in the way DK2 says they are. You should agree
that DK2 is true even though you disagree with both its antecedent and its
consequent. To deny DK2, you’d have to think, for instance, that the legal
drinking age was 18. But if you agree that the legal drinking age is 21, then
your quarrel is not with DK2; it’s with DK1.
Likewise, you can agree with the conditional premise FD4 even if you
think that being dead is bad for you. To disagree with FD4, you’d have to
think that it’s sometimes rational to fear things that aren’t bad for you.

4. Common Argumentative Strategies
Arguments can play a variety of different roles in philosophical debates.
Let’s have a look as some common argumentative strategies that you’ll
encounter in the book.
First, an argument can be used to defend a premise from another
argument. Premise FD1 of the Against Fearing Death argument—that you
cease to be conscious when you die—is hardly obvious. So, someone who
likes the Against Fearing Death argument might try to produce a further
argument in defense of that premise, like the following:

The Brain Death Argument
(BD1) Your brain stops working when you die
(BD2) If your brain stops working when you die, then you cease to be

conscious when you die
(FD1) So, you cease to be conscious when you die

Notice that in the context of the Brain Death Argument FD1 is a conclusion,
whereas in the context of the Against Fearing Death argument it’s a premise.
Which role a given statement is playing can vary from one argument to the
next. And whenever one wants to deny a claim that’s a conclusion of an
argument, one must identify some flaw in that argument. That means that
anyone who planned to resist the Against Fearing Death argument by
denying FD1 now has to reckon with this Brain Death Argument.

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Second, an argument can be used to challenge another argument. There
are two ways of doing so. One would be to produce an argument for the
opposite conclusion. For instance, one might advance the following
argument against FD5:

The Uncertain Fate Argument
(UF1) You don’t know what will happen to you after you die
(UF2) If you don’t know what will happen to you after to die, then you

should fear death
(UF3) So, you should fear death

Notice that UF3 is a denial of the conclusion of the Against Fearing Death
argument. Thus, if the Uncertain Fate Argument is successful, then
something must go wrong in the Against Fearing Death argument, though it
would still be an open question where exactly it goes wrong.
Another way to challenge an argument is to produce a new argument
against a premise of the argument you wish to challenge. Here, for instance,
is an argument against FD1 of the Against Fearing Death argument:

The Afterlife Argument
(AF1) You go to heaven or hell after you die
(AF2) If you go to heaven or hell after you die, then you don’t cease to

be conscious when you die
(AF3) So, you don’t cease to be conscious when you die

Unlike the Uncertain Fate Argument, The Afterlife Argument challenges a
premise of the Against Fearing Death argument, and does indicate where
that argument is supposed to go wrong.
I don’t mean to suggest that these are especially good arguments. Not
all arguments are created equal! People who believe in the afterlife aren’t
likely to be convinced by the Brain Death Argument, and people who don’t
believe in the afterlife aren’t likely to be convinced by the Afterlife
Argument. As you read on, you’ll discover that a lot of the work in
philosophy involves trying to construct arguments that will be convincing
even to those who aren’t initially inclined to accept their conclusions.

5. Counterexamples
Arguments often contain premises which contend that things are always a
certain way. For instance, someone who is pro-life might advance the
following argument:

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The Beating Heart Argument
(BH1) A six-week-old embryo has a beating heart
(BH2) It’s always immoral to kill something that has a beating heart
(BH3) So, it’s immoral to kill a six-week-old embryo

The second premise, BH2, says that killing things that have beating hearts
is always immoral. Put another way, the fact that something has a beating
heart is sufficient for killing it to be immoral.
Arguments also often contain premises which contend that things are
never a certain …

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