Philosophy is the investigation of fundamental issues
by rational argument
Table of Contents
- Nature of Philosophy
- Subject Matter of Philosophy
- Philosophic Method
- Philosophic Mindset
- The Importance of Philosophy
- Investigating Fundamental Issues
- Example of a Philosophical Investigation: What happens to you when you die?
Nature of Philosophy
- Philosophy is the investigation of fundamental issues by rational argument.
- It’s defined by:
- Its subject matter: Any Fundamental Issue.
- Its method: The Analysis of Arguments
- Its mindset: Skepticism.
Subject Matter of Philosophy
Any Fundamental Issue
- The subject matter of philosophy is any fundamental issue.
- Britannica Western Philosophy
- “[Philosophy] has no explicitly designated subject matter of its own but is a method or type of mental operation (like science or history) that can take any area or subject matter or type of experience as its object.”
- Epistemology is the investigation of knowledge and rational belief.
- A Priori and a Posteriori Knowledge, Analysis of Knowledge, Arguments, Probability, Rational Belief, Skepticism
- View Epistemology
- Metaphysics is the investigation of basic questions about reality.
- Abstract Entities, Afterlife, Causation, Free will, God and Supernatural Beings, Identity through Time, Matter and Consciousness, Modality, Persons, Space and Time
- View Metaphysics
- Logic is the investigation of valid reasoning
- Applied Logic, Arguments, Axiom Systems, Decision Theory, Deductive Logic, Probability Theory, Syllogisms and Venn Diagrams
- View Logic
- Ethics is the investigation of right and wrong, good and bad, and what should be done
- Normative Ethics, Applied Ethics, Metaethics
- View Ethics
- Political Philosophy is the normative and conceptual inquiry into forms of government
- Electoral Systems, Equality, Fairness, Forms of Government, Justice, Liberty, Libertarianism, Property, Representation, Rights, Welfare State
- View Political Philosophy
Philosophies of [Topic]
- The subject matter of philosophy has diversified from the traditional branches into groups of issues under the heading Philosophies of [Topic].
- For example:
- The fundamental method of philosophy is the analysis of arguments, more aptly described as critical thinking with a vengeance.
- An argument is a piece of reasoning, from premises to a conclusion.
- View Arguments
- Analyzing an argument comprises:
- Formulating the argument so its premises, conclusion, and reasoning are clear
- Evaluating the argument
- determining whether the premises are true.
- determining whether the argument’s reasoning is sound.
- The analysis of arguments has become very sophisticated since 1900, with an emphasis on clarity and precision, a better understanding of language, and the development of formal logic, probability theory, and decision theory.
- The quality of arguments has vastly improved over the centuries
- A variety of philosophical tools supplement the analysis of arguments.
- There are two conflicting drivers of belief:
- The disposition to believe based on rational argument
- The disposition to believe what you want to be true
- The philosophic mindset is the first of these, Skepticism.
- View Skepticism
The Importance of Philosophy
- Millions of Americans believe that Biden was not legitimately elected president.
- View The Big Lie
- Yet it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Biden’s election was legitimate.
- Millions of Americans thus believe — irrationally —that the president of the United States was not legitimately elected, a belief on which they may well act, e.g. vote.
- What makes philosophy so important are its method —the analysis of arguments — and the skeptical mindset driving it.
Investigating Fundamental Issues
- Investigating fundamental issues proceeds top-down:
- Articulate the question.
- Frame competing hypotheses.
- Formulate the arguments.
- Evaluate the arguments and draw a conclusion.
- View Framework for Investigation
- View Framework for Decision-Making
Example of a Philosophical Investigation:
What happens to you when you die?