The Bias of the Obvious in Philosophy


Philosophers often struggle and strive to create logical arguments to get at the truth of a particular subject or so the claim is. In philosophy classes, students are bombarded with various forms of logical deductive and inductive arguments, so that they know what qualifies as a genuine argument. The students are trained to avoid logical fallacies, and they write many a paper, where they will lose many a grade point if they fail to make a logical argument and avoid these fallacies. Still, doing real philosophy is not this simple. I would argue, that philosophers are often “biased”.

This is not to say that philosophers aren’t, for the most part, making logical arguments. The problem is that even a logical argument can potentially be wrong, if new information arises. For example look at this argument:

  1. All white bears are polar bears
  2. X is a bear
  3. X is white
  4. Thus, X is a polar bear

That argument is logical, but it is also wrong. Non-polar bears can be, of course, white. But, if someone had never heard or seen a white non-polar bear, this argument would seem reasonable, wouldn’t it?

And, this brings us to the next point. Philosophy and logic are absolutely indispensable, but logic alone is not enough to bear the weight of the burden of proof in many cases. If someone had never had a science class or lived a long time ago, it would make sense to them that the sun went around the earth. Why? It seems patently obvious to the naked eye. Both modern knowledge and logical argumentation is necessary to prove that the earth in fact goes around the sun and the like.

One of the problems philosophy faces in arenas outside science and instead in arenas such as morality and religion is to get past the “obvious.” It is obvious to some that God exists, and it is obvious to other that he/she/it doesn’t. Many a premise and conclusion are made to prove both sides of this debate correct, but the debate still rages. For example, when people make the claim that something can’t come from nothing, this will seem obvious to many people, but has anyone ever dealt with absolute nothingness? Could we be wrong about the obvious? I’m not trying to claim the answer one way or the other, but the point is, how would we really know? These philosophers and lay people are relying on the obvious which is in reality a bias!

Nevertheless, it is not just religious philosophy that suffers from the problems of the bias of the obvious. For many the idea of maximizing happiness as a moral system seems obvious, not that there aren’t arguments for this, but should we be digging deeper? Sure being happy and causing others to be happy seems “nice.” However, it is tempting to ask if happiness and pleasure are really the highest aims to being human.

There are many other cases and examples I could have used in philosophy. I hope to have used some relatable ones. The problem with philosophy, sometimes, is that it is often trying to answer questions before we have enough knowledge, or it is trying to answer questions where superior knowledge will never be found. Often the bias of the obvious is used, so I beseech you to notice this when you are doing your own critical thinking.

 

Thank you for reading. Feel free to like and comment!

Advertisements

Why, as an Atheist, have I been Talking so much about Buddhism?


Here is my unscripted off the cuff remarks on my interest in Buddhism

My Complicated Relationship with Religion


Certainly, I have a complicated relationship with religion. Currently, I am a non-religious atheist, or as I’m better described, a devout skeptic. (See the menu on the left for an article I wrote on that term.) I have been this way for years. Now, when I say I have a complicated relationship with atheism, that doesn’t mean I’m going to run to church today and go get “saved.” It’s much more “complicated” than that.

Basically, I find world religions to be truly fascinating! I’ve even invested a good amount of time and money studying them. I enjoy understanding them both from an academic prospective and from the subjective experience of their followers. This, of course, means I occasionally, once or twice a year, go to different religious services to experience what it is like to be a member of a particular religion, but I never officially join.

Although I hate what religions can do in some instances to a society, I don’t hate religions or religious people. In fact in some ways, I enjoy them, but what on earth do I mean by this? Religions are the closest things we have to actually living out a fantasy book or movie.

There is an idea in religions that there is something beyond this realm, and people can somehow harness it’s power. This is practically the plot to every fantasy book, and while I don’t believe that this religious notion is true, it is fascinating and fun to play with and study once in a while.

So, I warned my readers. My “relationship” with religion is a complicated one, but at the end of the day, I am not a theist. I don’t know if anyone can relate, and I suppose that’s okay.

As always, feel free to comment, even if you don’t like what I wrote!

 

Sick Children and Religion


I’ve been sick for a week, but I’m getting better. I still can’t hear out my ears very well, but I’m sure it will get better. I thought I had allergies until I kept getting sicker. Anyways, at least I’m no longer in pain or leaking fluid out my eye sockets!

Being sick reminds of Christian Scientists who don’t believe in modern medicine. ( I know a portion of them do receive some medical intervention, especially for vaccines.) I mean if a grown adult would rather die than go to a hospital, then I suppose we should let them. (After a healthy dose of education of course!) Still, what about their children?

I, actually, find the idea of neglecting a sick child in that way is barbaric, but I also, truly, don’t want to live in a world where people aren’t allowed to practice their beliefs. While I do think it necessary to help a child who is being neglected, I do prefer for Big Brother to stay out of a parents’ relationship with their children. Of course, we could just simply state that if a child is knocking on death’s door, then it is appropriate to intervene.  Then again, how many cases against parents would be successful in the end?They are, obviously, going to use a freedom of religion defense. What about the child’s freedom of religion? What about a teenager’s? If a minor wants to receive medical attention, at what age do they have a right to it without parental approval? Still, to what degree does minor living with their parents truly have autonomy?

Also, what if the children arent‘t on death’s door, and they are just needlessly suffering? I know some will disagree, but the parent, in my view, who allows a child to touch a hot stove in order to learn better is wrong.

I’m not answering my questions, intentionally. There are no good answers. If we take away the children, then the children are being robbed of what, might, very well be otherwise a loving home, and then, what if the children grow up with resentment towards society. If we do take the children, it could be a good thing, physically. for the child. I supposed the government could demand regular check ups in order to monitor the children, but that’s a heck of a lot of freedom to give up. This just one of those times where belief puts the rest of us between a rock and a hard place.

Atheisim and Theism: Which One Cause the Most Harm?


Many times atheists will point out the Salem Witch Trials, the Inquisition, and ISIS. Theists, in turn, will bring up Mao, Stalin, and others. I think this line of reasoning is a failure on both sides aisle. What matters is what logically follows from a specific view point. People can do harm for a variety of reasons. If we are going to pin horrors specifically on either atheism or theism we need the harm to logically follow from one of them.

Bare with me, I actually don’t think harm logically follows from either atheism or theism. Atheism simply means the lack of belief in god(s); while, theism simply means the belief in a personal deity. The terms atheism and theism tells one very little about what motivates a person, and there is no doctrine or dogma that goes along with either of these views. It is thus necessary to look further into what motivates these people. Is the theist, who is causing harm, a Christian, Muslim, or other? Does Christianity or Islam justify this harm? I will let you make up your own mind. What is the atheist, who causes harm, motivated by? Are they part of ideological worldview like say communism? Does their ideological worldview justify the harm they are committing? I will, once again, let the readers make up their own mind.

The point neither theism nor atheism in and of themselves can be responsible for atrocities. Nothing in these terms justifies bad or good behavior. What matters are worldviews that justify atrocities, and I will leave it to the reader to decide which religions or worldviews justify atrocities.