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INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON LECTURE #3

TRUTH AND OPINION


Belief – refers to acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists
Proposition – statement about the object of belief. The object of belief is the representation of the fact found in the
world or truth conditions about the world.

Structure of Belief: S believes that P is true (where S is the person and P is the representation of the belief.)
Sir Delgado believes that he is in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.
S P
Truth – a statement about the way the world actually is.

Theories on the Nature of Truth


 Correspondence Theory of Truth – states that the key to truth is the relation (or correspondence) between
propositions and the world. This means that a belief is true if there exists an appropriate entity – a fact – to
which it corresponds. If there is no such entity, the belief is false.
 Coherence Theory of Truth – states that the truth of any proposition consists in its coherence with some
specified set of propositions (or significant wholes). This means that the truth conditions of a proposition are
based on other propositions. It insists that a belief is true if and only if it is a part of a coherent system of beliefs.
 Pragmatic Theory of Truth - states that a proposition is true if it is useful to believe it. Thus, utility is the
essential mark of truth.

Domains of Truth
 Objective domain – scientific truths; this pertains to the natural world that maintains a relative independence
from the perspective and attitude of human beings that perceive them.
 Social domain – truths that are analogous with of a general agreement or consensus on what is right as opposed
to what is wrong.
 Personal domain – truths analogous to sincerity; for this reason, the truths that we claim in this domain need
corresponding actions that will establish trust
Truth can also be understood as what has passed procedures of justification. Justification means the process of
proving the truth or validity of a statement.
Domains of Truth Corresponding Justification
Objective domain Truths are tested against empirical evidence.
Social domain Truths are tested against their acceptability to a particular group in a particular time
in history.
Personal domain Truths are tested against the consistency and authenticity of the person who claims it.

Concept – an abstract idea; “building blocks” of knowledge


Terms – words that express concepts
Knowledge – a definition is tough to come by. On the standard definition, a person knows a fact if:
 the person believes the statement to be true;
 the statement is in fact true; and
 the person is justified in believing the statement to be true.

Stages in the Apprehension of Concepts Before Knowledge Becomes Possible


 Perception – involves two types:
- External perception – happens when we perceive things using our five senses (results in a percept).
- Internal perception – happens when we use our imagination and memory (results in an image).
 Abstraction – involves the use of the intellect where we grasp what is universal among the different particulars
that we have observed from perception (results in a concept)
 Judgment – involves making a knowledge claim by at least two concepts and putting them together to make a
statement that could be either true or false about the world (results in a proposition)

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Types of Knowledge
 Formal Knowledge – corresponds to knowledge in the formal sciences whose main concern is the validation of
their knowledge claims within the formal system in their respective discipline
 Empirical Knowledge – uses the faculty of experience and sense perception in order to establish their
knowledge claims.

Sources of Knowledge
 Reason – an analytic faculty that is able to determine the truth of analytic statements. Reasoning generally
comes in two forms:
- Deduction is the kind of reasoning usually used in mathematics and is the more certain of the two as it
involves ‘drawing out’ valid conclusions from previously known facts – e.g. All cats are animals, Jack is a cat,
so Jack is an animal.
- Induction, on the other hand, is usually used in Science and is less certain as it involves jumping from some
things you have observed to making universal statements about all things – e.g. I drop this pencil and it falls,
so it is likely all dropped pencils (and indeed things) will fall. Notice that both forms are usually dependent
on sensation to give us the initial facts or ideas in the first place.
 Sense – has to do with the use of the five senses, including sensory extending devices for purposes of verifying
our empirical claims, and thus leading to empirical knowledge
 Intuition – deals with the immediate or direct recognition of self-evident truths
 Authority – (or hearsay, or testimony of others) is by nature secondary, and secondhand fact-claims are always
more difficult to validate

Opinion – is a statement of judgment of a person about something in the world; it is a statement of judgment that is in
need of further justification

Evaluating Opinions
A philosophical mind must be prepared to examine arguments supporting an opinion. An argument is a group of
statements that serve to support a conclusion. It is made up of a claim (the conclusion of an argument) and premises
(the reasons used to support the conclusion). Not all arguments are good arguments. We call fake arguments “fallacies”.
Fallacies are groups of statements that appear to be arguments, but fail to support the conclusion.
Common Logical Fallacies
(From http://www.myguruedge.com/our-thinking/myguru-blog/bid/214477/10-common-logical-fallacies, accessed July 3, 2017)

1. Ad Hominem: This occurs when an author attacks his opponent instead of his opponent’s argument.
Example: Trina thinks guns should be outlawed but Trina doesn’t go to church, so we shouldn’t listen to her
2. Ad Populum (Bandwagon): Ad Populum attempts to prove an argument as correct simply because many people
believe it to be so.
Example: 80% of people are for the death penalty, therefore, the death penalty is moral.
3. Appeal to Authority: In this fallacious argument, the author claims his argument is right because someone
famous or powerful supports it.
Example: We should change the drinking age because Einstein believed that 18 was the proper drinking age
4. Begging the Question: This happens when the author’s premise and conclusion say the same thing.
Example: Fashion magazines don’t hurt women’s self esteem because women’s confidence is intact after
reading the magazine.
5. False Dichotomy: This fallacy rests on the assumption that there are only two possible solutions, so disproving
one solution means that other solution should be utilized. It ignores other alternative solutions.
Example: The teacher gives too many A’s and therefore must be fired because grade inflation is unfair to other
students
6. Hasty Generalization: Hasty Generalization occurs when the proponent uses too small of a sample size to
support a sweeping generalization.
Example: Sally couldn’t find any cute clothes at the boutique and neither could Maura, so the boutique doesn’t
have any cute clothes.
7. Post Hoc/ False Cause: This fallacy assumes that correlation equals causation or, in other words, if one event
predicts another event it must have also caused the event.

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Example: The football team gets better grades than the baseball team, therefore playing football makes you
smarter than playing baseball.
8. Missing the Point: In Missing the Point, the premise of the argument supports a specific conclusion but not the
one the author draws.
Example: Antidepressants are overly prescribed which is dangerous, so they should clearly be made illegal.
9. Spotlight Fallacy: This occurs when the author assumes that the cases that receive the most publicity are the
most common cases.
Example: 90% of news reports talk about negative events. Therefore, it follows that 90% of events that occur in
the real world are negative.
10. Straw Man: In this fallacy, the author puts forth one of his opponent’s weaker, less central arguments forward
and destroys it, while acting like this argument is the crux of the issue.
Example: My opponent wants to increase teachers’ pay but studies have shown that professors with tenure
don’t work as hard at their job to improve themselves.

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