Reason and Experience

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A Priori knowledge
The knowledge of propositions that do not require sense experience to be true (before experience). If you understand the proposition you can see straight away it must be true. 'All bachelors are married men.'
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A Posteriori knowledge
Facts established through experience. 'Snow is white.' - Post experience
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Analytic Propositions
A proposition is analytic if it is true/false in the virtue of the meaning of the word. The truth is in the word, eg: A bachelor is an unmarried man is analytic because bachelor means unmarried man. SQUARE HAS 4 SIDES
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Synthetic Propositions
A proposition is synthetic if it is not just analytic, it is true/false not just in virtue of the meaning of the word, but in virtue of the way the world is.You need to check it to know it to be true e.g. Ripe tomatoes are red.
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Inductive Arguments
An argument that's conclusion is supported by its premises, but not logically entailed by them. If the premis is true the conclusion is likely to be true. e.g. a letter with a French post mark is likely to be from France
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Deductive Arguments
The conclusion is logically entailed by its premises. If its premises are true, the conclusion cannot be false. e.g Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
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What is Knowledge?
Facts that you know for certain. e.g.: 2+2=4 NOT 'A child knows how to suckle' Empistemology is the study of knowledge.
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Empiricsm (Locke & Hume)
All knowledge derives from sense experience. Believe we are born as a tabula rasa (black slate). The view that claims about what exists must ultimately be grounded in and justified by sense experience.
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Locke on Empiricsm
The mind is a tabula rasa or "blank slate" at birth, empty of all ideas and knowledge; it is gradually filled through experience. Locke's definition of "idea" = "the object of thinking" "if everyone had innate ideas, kids & idiots would know the same
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Innate ideas
Knowledge from birth, knowledge we have inside our minds already before experience.
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Simple / Complex ideas
Simple ideas: 'The smell of cheese, the taste of coffee' Complex ideas: Compiling different concepts to make a more complicated one e.g: a unicorn is made up of the concepts: horn, horse and white
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Hume on Empiricsm
Ideas are (faint) copies of original sense impressions. Because my original experience was forceful, it impressed upon me, a copy of itself.
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Hume continued...
Hume supports this with the claim that if we lack the ability to have the sense impression, we can never form the corresponding idea.This is why blind men can have no idea of colours and deaf men of sounds.Hume claims that the imagination is limited.
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Hume's Complex ideas argument
A criticsm of empiricsm is that we have never experience ideas such as gold mountains yet we know what they look like.Hume argues this is a complex idea, formed by 2 simple ideas, which comes from an original sense impression of gold, and a mountain.
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Hume's fork
Hume goes on to make a broader claim about the justification of claims to knowledge. There are only two kinds of knowledge claim: relations of ideas and matters of fact. If we find a claim that does not rest either on a relation of ideas or a
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The missing shade of blue
A rationalist criticsm of empiricsm. If we are given a spectrum of shades of blue, a shade may be missing but we can still picture it - without experience.Hume actually considers an exception to his rule.
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A response to the missing shade of blue
Perhaps the man actually forms the complex idea of the missing shade from Simple ideas he has had: the idea of the shades of blue he has seen and the more general idea of gradations of shade. The colour blue is a simple idea.
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Genie argument FOR EMPIRICISM
Was a case where by a girl was trapped in a dark room all her life - couldn't speak, knew nothing but when she was brought out she started to develop & gain knowledge throughout experience.
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Rationalism - Innate knowledge
Rationalists claim that we have knowledge of synthetic propositions that does not depend upon sense experience. 2 ways to gain knowledge: We know certain truths innately or we have a form of rational ‘insight’ which enables us to grasp certain truths
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Rationalism continued
Many rationalists add that the synthetic a priori knowledge we gain through reason or innately cannot be arrived at in any other way. They may also argue that is superior, e.g by being more certain, to the knowledge/beliefs we gain through senses.
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Descartes (Rationalism)
Argues we can establish existence of the mind, the physical world and God through a priori reasoning. Descartes says you can't trust the senses, they can decieve us.
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Descartes Wax argument
When the wax is solid it looks and smells a certain way, but when melted it is completely different & its properties have changed, but it is still wax - Our senses can decieve us.
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'I THINK THEREFORE I AM' - He thinks and from this - He exsists. You cannot doubt that you think because doubting is a form of thinking. He got to this point by pure reasoning, this truth is seen by intuition.
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Rationalism & Descartes
We can use a priori intuition & deductive argument to show what exsists - you can see the truth of a claim by what exsists. Sense experience alone can not estbalish what exsists - could be an evil demon perception?
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Descartes argument for the physical world
Argues for the exsistence of God to prove physical world. From God not being a deciever, it follows that our sense experience - in general - can't be completely mistaken, so the physical world exsists.
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Conceptual Schemes
Human beings don't all have the same concepts - different cultures have difference conceptual schemes (set of shelves) - presents sensation through a predetermined conceptual scheme or framework.
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Conceptual Schemes continued...
2 distinguishable elements to experience = the data of the senses & the interpretation of the data by the set of concepts. Human beings have formulated different concepts forming different views of the world- truths are relative to conceptual schemes
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Sapir - Whorf hypothesis
Stuck between the difficulties in translating between languages. E.g Hopo Indians time talk could not be expressed in English, their language is a refelction of how they think - language as a technique of expression
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Chomsky: Innate knowledge of Language
Argued part of language (grammar) is innate. We know whether a sentance is 'allowed' in language. To learn from experience children would need memory & grammatical rules explained.
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Chomsky 'poverty of stimulus' argument
Children learn linguistic grammar accurately fast & from poor info that their knowledge of grammar can't have derived from experience. They arrive at gramatical rules not consciously.
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Kantian Ethics
Kant argues that we can have "synthetic a priori knowledge" - the categories are not known through experience but they are not analytically true. We need some experiences before we know that we have these categories. Categories must be innate.
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Mathematical knowledge
Rationalists use as a good example of what we can know a priori by reasoning alone. Empiricists accapt math is a priori but argue it is analytic.
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Ayer's verification principle
Logical Positivism. States a statement only has meaning if it is empirically/analytically verifiable - if empirical evidence would go towards establishing if a statement is true or false.
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Verification principle rejection
Rejected as an inadequate accound of what it is for a statement to have meaning.
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Card 2


A Posteriori knowledge


Facts established through experience. 'Snow is white.' - Post experience

Card 3


Analytic Propositions


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Card 4


Synthetic Propositions


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Card 5


Inductive Arguments


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