Philosophy help

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Philosophy help

Postby SnoringFrog » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:44 pm

I'm not quite to where I need the help yet, but I know it's coming. I'm working through Derek Parfit's "Why Anything? Why This?". My instructions for my paper are these:

"• summarize the article;
• analyze, lay out, explore one or two central arguments contained in that essay;
• critically evaluate the argument(2) identified above;
• state three (3) reasons, with a brief justification for each, why you think this article is important or noteworthy; and,
• conclude the article.

I'm having enough difficultly following some of what's said, so I'm not really sure how I'm going to make this paper work. I think my main issue is going to be identifying the central arguments, because he does not seem to be proposing any in this article. If I can get that, I think I can pull off the rest of the paper adequately.

Edit: One question I have so far is what does he mean by "arbitrary"? He keeps using that term but I am not sure what it's supposed to mean. >.< He talks about things being more of less arbitrary than each other.
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Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:02 pm

Skimming the article, he's asking why the universe exists. One thing I noticed is his argument that "God must have a cause". It's his refutation of the Kalam Argument, God being the first cause of everything.

But anything that causes God must be God, right?

Granted, the Kalam Argument isn't a strong argument (in my opinion) at all when you apply Hume's criticisms of causality. But that in itself has other implications as well.

And arbitrary pretty much means "meaningless". Or innately meaningless.

I think I'll read more of it later.
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Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:06 pm

Also, looking up the guy, he has an interest in "non-religious ethics". I'll have to side with Nietzsche on this one and say that it's impossible.
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Postby ABlipinTime » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:40 pm

What is sounds like he is doing, at least in the first section, is arguing that neither the theist nor the atheist perspectives on the origin of the universe and life on earth are believable. That is, the evidence doesn't really support the probability of the common ideas presented by either side (theist or atheist). The author himself is arguing in favor of the creation of multiple universes (by big bang(s) ), and he is using the false argument that "because it hasn't been proved impossible, it must be possible". Now, he could argue this on the basis of existentialism (something I just read about either today, ironically; search the web for Soren Kierkegaard's Absolute Paradox). However, such an argument wouldn't support his view at all except to all his idea to be included among all the other ideas. But if his idea is true, then (and I'm going to use an atheist used and everyone knows is bogus) the flying spaghetti monster could have created the universe. After all, there isn't proof that it didn't and therefore there is a probability that it did.

I only read the first section.

Hope this helps. Good luck on your paper!

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Postby Mithrandir » Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:11 pm

If you're looking for a position from which to do the critique, I like to start with a statement such as...

"Truth likely exists, but it is well-nigh impossible to know it when we find it."

... and then pick away at anything that seems to conflict with it.
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Postby Warrior4Christ » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:38 am

Mr. SmartyPants (post: 1425408) wrote:And arbitrary pretty much means "meaningless". Or innately meaningless.

It also means "randomly chosen without any particular reason".

Eg. "I arbitrarily chose x to be 3 to solve an equation."

"Weekly fuel price cycles are a bit arbitrary and not really caused by external market forces."
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Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:27 am

If he is judging thing based of off evidential proofs, you an easily kill his argument by stripping down how empiricism (and logical positivism, which I'm guessing he follows this epistemological metaphysic) ultimately fails as a suitable epistemology. Kierkegaard and Hume can help you here.
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