What Philosophy Can Do

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A common, if often implicit, assumption of many of these criticisms is that the goal of philosophy is to produce definitive, agreed- upon answers to perennial philosophical questions e. But this would be to hold philosophy to the wrong standard, according to Gutting.

What Do Philosophers Do? - The Atlantic

Since people can plausibly start with different convictions, the positions that can be ratio- nally defended will be plural, not singular. In a pluralistic society in which there are many different sets of convictions, intellectual maintenance is important be- cause it is a means by which we maintain our identity But philosophical thinking is the means by which we maintain these beliefs—i. If the goal of philosophy is the articulation of the relationship between ideas rather than determining which ideas are true, then those who criticize philosophy for failing to attain the latter are attacking a straw man.

Whereas the manifest image understands human beings from a perspective according to which conscious- ness, perception, and thought are explanatorily basic, the scientific image understands human beings from a perspective according to which, ultimately, electrons and quarks, not human beings, are basic. Whereas an older tradition of philosophy concerned itself with articulating answers to questions from within the manifest image, the emergence the scientific image has raised a new question: what is the relationship between the manifest and scientific image of human beings?


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Gutting attempts to walk a line between a textbook and an original work. This is tough to do, but I think he does it reasonably well. As I see it, the best use of this text would be in a capstone-type course in philosophy, although some of the chapters could be used to supplement topics in more bread-and- butter type philosophy courses.

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In chapter 1, after laying out some basic concepts about the nature of argument and after arguing that unargued-for assumptions convictions are at the root of every argument, Gutting considers the epistemic problem of disagreement between epistemic peers. In the case of disagreement between me and an epistemic peer roughly, a person who I see as well-informed and reasonable as I am , should I give up my belief or at least back off the strength with which I hold it or cling to it? The former seems like it would lead towards skepticism, but it could also put into jeopardy our personal in- tegrity and identity.

However, when the issue is not one of personal integrity, I should perhaps be willing to back off my claims in the face of disagreements with epistemic peers Engaging in argument is valuable because it can actually occasion self-understanding regarding what my convictions are and how deeply I hold them In chapters 2—3, Gutting considers the nature and limits of science.

What Is Philosophy's Point?, Part 1 (Hint: It's Not Discovering Truth)

In particular, he considers a number of question that science cannot by itself answer, including the nature of consciousness, morality, and the origin of the universe. I think Gutting is right about this, but I think he could have more clearly articulated the relationship between philosophy and science in these chapters.

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But working with brain scientists, they may learn enough to decide whether the choices we make in ordinary circumstances are free. Science and philoso- phy together may reach a solution to the problem of free will that neither alone could achieve. Philosophy encourages the student to formulate questions and follow arguments.

Philosophy provides an excellent preparation for law school and other professional programs, as well as a solid foundation for a career in business, teaching, writing, or public service. The Department of Philosophy offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree and a Doctor of Philosophy graduate degree. From New York Times, Nov 3, the point here is to look at the spread. Philosophy is the ultimate "transferable work skill.

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Philosophy majors successfully work in, but are not limited to the following occupational fields:. What does a Philosopher look like? For more information about career opportunities, contact the UK Career Center.


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Holding to philosophy as a tool rather than a source, he favors a consensus position in concert with democracy and rejects the "demonizing rancor of true believers. He faults Descartes for claiming that properly done philosophy can establish its own distinctive body of knowledge — the foundationalism. He holds that we have, and should have, preferences that are not legitimated by philosophical reflection, and writes: If philosophy is supposed to be a way of proving what doesn't need any proof, then it is indeed useless.

Gotting says he does not believe in God, and also he writes in the New York Times that "In all honesty, I will admit that I don't have a definitive argument that God doesn't exist.

PHILOSOPHY - Augustine

But without convincing affirmative reasons to believe, I'm stuck. If others find reasons that convince them, I'm willing to discuss them and consider them I see people around me — often very smart and thoughtful people — who get great comfort from believing that God exists. Why wouldn't I want to be like them? It's just that I can't.



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