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Identify: • A subjective claim that people might call “a fact” • An objective cl

by | Apr 11, 2022 | Philosophy | 0 comments

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Identify: • A subjective claim that people might call “a fact” • An objective claim that people might call “an opinion” • What is the difference between a claim that is “objective” and a claim that is “subjective?” • Explain how mislabeling these claims could negatively impact the quality of a person’s thinking. You might try thinking of claims you could hear in a hospital or another work-related environment. If a person has confused objective with subjective or fact with opinion, what is the solution? Kickoff Post Welcome to the beginning of our Week 1 Discussion! And, in the grand philosophical tradition, we start with some pretty big questions – what is knowledge, what is truth, what is belief, and what are the differences between these concepts? (This being a philosophy class, one of my favorite definitions of what philosophers do is from an old philosophy professor who, when asked by his taxicab driver what exactly philosophers do, replied: “Eh, you make a few distinctions, you clarify a few concepts. It’s a living.”). As I mentioned in the welcome announcement, a big part of this course focuses on how we can really “know” anything, and how we know what’s true and what isn’t. Socrates is perhaps the most famous and well-known philosopher in the Western intellectual tradition, and he’s famous in part because of one key insight – “The only thing that I know is that I know nothing” (some interesting discussions of this statement here, here, and here, and you can read the source here, or a good summary here). What Socrates is talking about is skepticism and uncertainty – how do we really know anything, and how can we be certain we know? So much of our notions are based on what we want to believe (or, even more worrisomely, what others want us to believe), rather than what we really know to be true. And even if we think we have evidence that it’s true, how do we know that evidence is accurate, or that we’re reading or interpreting it correctly? In particular for this week’s discussion, we’re exploring the differences between facts (statements that can be proved true or false through external evidence) and opinions (expressions of one’s feelings, which cannot be proven true or false but are simply reflections of a person’s views), and how they’re often confused in every discourse. In particular I want to note that facts and objective statements can be wrong – if, for example, I state that the moon is made out of green cheese, that’s an objective statement because it states something about the external world that can be verified through evidence. It’s also a false objective statement because we’ve been there and taken back samples and determined it’s mostly made out of mafic plutonic rocks, which is not green cheese. The distinctions between objective and subjective knowledge and between facts and opinions are especially important to recognize in this supposedly post-fact and post-truth era, when feelings and beliefs seem to take the place of evidence and when “alternative facts” enable people to construct the reality they want (although others argue that facts still matter), but the sources that we get our information from matter just as much). Looking forward to reading your examples and your thoughts on these concepts, what they mean, how they differ, and how our understanding of them will help us navigate the course and help us think critically! • Politics: As you’re likely aware, we live in a politically divisive era, and we’re also living in a time of great uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus and other factors, so there’s a lot of information that’s being cast about – some of it subjective claims masquerading as objective claims, some opinions masquerading as facts, some facts that are erroneously and sometimes dangerously called opinion. Given all this, it’s likely that in our discussions and papers, politics will come up, which is fine, but I wanted to underscore (and this will be a theme throughout this class) – with any argument, it’s the evidence that matters. We can make any claims we want, but this course will focus on the premises that support those claims, and whether and how well the premises support those claims. That’s what critical reasoning fundamentally is – analyzing the relationship between evidence and claims to determine if, and how well, the evidence backs up the claims, and why. Which is a long way of saying – for the purposes of this class I’m not concerned with what your politics are, and none of you should be concerned with what my or each other’s politics are either; we should be instead focused on the premises that are provided to support conclusions, and whether and how well those premises support those conclusions, and why. 250 word count APA formatted No plagiarism

 

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