The investigation of fundamental issues by rational argument

Table of Contents

  1. Nature of Philosophy
  2. Subject Matter of Philosophy
    1. Any Fundamental Issue
    2. Traditional Branches
    3. Philosophies of [Topic]
  3. Philosophic Method
  4. Philosophic Mindset
  5. The Importance of Philosophy
  6. Investigating Fundamental Issues
  7. 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.
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.”
Traditional Branches
  • 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:
Philosophic Method
  • 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.
  • 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
Philosophic Mindset
  • There are two conflicting drivers of belief:
  • The philosophic mindset is Skepticism, the disposition to believe only on the basis of rational argument.
The Importance of Philosophy
  • Millions of Americans believe that Biden was not legitimately elected president.
  • 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 today are its method —the analysis of arguments — and the skeptical mindset driving it.
Investigating Fundamental Issues
Example of a Philosophical Investigation:
What happens to you when you die?

View Afterlife