Wednesday, February 01, 2012

What is an argument?

What is an argument? Actually there is a little bit of an ambiguity in the use of that word, because it can mean 1) and unpleasant dispute, or 2) a set of statements designed to give someone a reason for believing something. This famous Monty Python comedy sketch exploits this ambiguity brilliantly. Michael Palin is expecting an argument in the second sense, but John Cleese just keeps contradicting him, assuming that that is what an argument is.  But when we talk about argument in philosophy, what we have in mind is an attempt to show that something is true. Logic is, to a large extent, the attempt to analyze arguments, to determine how strong they are, and if they commit any fallacies, that is, faulty reasoning patterns.


Anonymous said...

Yep. I'm taking logic as we speak. Well, this semester. Not literally as we speak. I have studied a little bit on my own in the past though. Not that I'm the best at it.

Cristofer Urlaub said...

It's unfortunate how many people nowadays think they are trying to show something is true, but really, all they are doing is having an unpleasant dispute.

guy said...


Sorry this is off-topic, but i was hoping you might be able to suggest some sources. Do you know anyone who deals with the problem of evil particularly as a tension between a good (morally perfect, or benevolent, or whatever) God and the God of the OT who seems to perpetrate evils? i'm having trouble finding sources in journals for that particular angle of the problem.



JC Lamont said...

Hello. Sorry to leave a post, but I can't find an email for you anywhere. I am a fellow apologist aiming to reach the younger generation and wanted to connect with you. You can email me at crimsonmoon_ixoye at msn dot com. I really look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Speaking of arguments. I have finally come to a conclusion about absolute moral truths. There are no good arguments that prove absolute moral truths. All I can do is give examples and have you give me a possible world where it would be justified in doing such and such. Notice that in doing this though you will have given me an absolute moral truth. For example. Give me a possible world where abusing people just because of the color of their skin is okay. When you do this all you will have shown is that there is a possible world where abusing people just because of the color of their skin is okay. So, this would lead to this absolute:

It's right and good to abuse people just because of the color of their skin in such and such circumstances.

Moreover, I don't think I'm required to give an argument as if I'm going against some duty. Consider the moral statement:

It's wrong to believe in moral truths without having an argument

This absolute moral truth claim doesn't have an argument. So, according to it's own standards it is wrong or irrational to believe it. It's self-defeating.