Posted: August 7th, 2013

















Part A

            1. A disagreement is the failure to convene on an opinion presented by a person or group. An argument, on the other hand, is the presentation of opposing views on a particular subject matter. A formal argument is presented in an ordered series of statements called premises that lead to a conclusion. A disagreement is not a prerequisite for an argument. It does provide an incentive for an argument by giving two differing positions on a subject. An argument may exist to analyze the validity of widely accepted concepts further or for intellectual jousting purposes. The existence of two or more people in an argument is not necessary, but it provides differing views that may further the argument. A single person may take different stances on the same topic.

2. An explanation is a statement or a number of statements aimed at providing a clearer understanding of certain facts. An argument seeks to prove that a certain statement is true based of factual premises. This means the argument purposes to contribute knowledge in a given subject. If two people, A and B, address the issue of whether or not a third person, C is sleepy, they may refer to the fact hat he is dosing. This is an argument based on the premise that C is dosing and people dose when they are sleepy. However, if A and B agree on it, they may what to know why C is dosing and hence propose an explanation that C is exhausted from working in the hot weather. The difference is that they both what to show why a case is true.

3. A deductive argument is one that derives a conclusion from a set of premises that arrive logically at a certain conclusion. It directly links the premises presented with the conclusion. If the premises are true, then it follows that the conclusion is true by logical necessity. Validity is determined by the condition that a conclusion is logically evoked by its premises considering each step of the argument is logical. A deductive argument is valid if and only if a true conclusion is drawn from the premises, whatever they may be. It means that an argument can be valid even though the premises are false. An example of a valid deductive argument:

  1. Everyone who eats chips is overweight.
  2. James eats chips.
  3. Therefore, James is overweight.

The first premise is false because there are people who eat chips but are not overweight. The conclusion is true because it is derived from the premises. This is a valid deductive argument.

4. The quality of validity, as far as deductive arguments are concerned, relates the conclusion arrived at to the premises to judge whether true or false. If the conclusion is true based on the premises, then the argument is valid irrespective of whether or not the premises are true. Conversely, inductive arguments only state the probability of a conclusion being true based on the premises put forth. This gives the inductive its quality of strength based on the degree of probability. Another noteworthy difference between the two types of arguments is that, in an inductive argument, the conclusion may be false despite the premises being true.

5. The argument follows the structure: If P, then Q. When Q happens, the conclusion is made that P is true. This is an invalid argument since the conclusion is false. Not all other possibilities have been excluded to the exception of P. As long as the conclusion of a deductive argument is false, the argument is rendered invalid. A counterexample of the given example is:

  1. Miami is in the USA.
  2. Sam lives in the USA.
  3. Therefore, Sam lives in Miami.

The above argument is invalid because the conclusion is false even though the premises are true.

6. A dilemma is a problem that offers two solutions, neither of which is desirable. A common example of such a situation is depicted when one encounters a homeless person asking for change:

  1. Either the change will help the person or not.
  2. Giving them change may lead to dependency.
  3. Denying them change may result in them sleeping hungry.
  4. Therefore, dependency or hunger will result from giving change.

There are several solutions to a dilemma. The analogy of “being on the horns of the dilemma” is used to refer to the person facing a dilemma as it is akin to facing a charging bull. The outcome – impalement – is undesirable. The first involves grasping the first horn, which means giving the person the change to prevent the risk of them going hungry. Grasping the second horn means denying the person change to prevent dependency. The other option of going between the horns would be to ignore the request for change hence, avoiding both outcomes. Charging the bull involves changing strategy, resulting in a proactive approach to the dilemma. Other solutions to this dilemma can be broached, such as finding employment for the person to provide sustenance and eliminate dependency.

7. The argument is weak because the conclusion of an inductive argument is probabilistic, that is, given certain premises, the conclusion is probable. The given argument is an example of a weak inductive argument. To turn it into a strong inductive argument would entail changing the conclusion drawn from the premises:

  1. I have observed five crows today.
  2. All five crows were black.
  3. Therefore, there is a probability that most crows are black.

The change in the framing of the conclusion changes it to a strong inductive statement because chances are that not all crows are black. Five crows are a small number on which to base an argument. They are not a representative of the entire crow population. The argument is strong because the likelihood that the conclusion is true is higher.

8. Modus ponens is an argument form that follows the structure: if P implies Q and P are true, then Q is true. An example is:

If it is sunny, then I will go for a swim.

It is sunny.

Therefore, I will go for a swim.

The fallacy ensues from affirming the consequent “then I will go for a swim” since “if it is sunny” was not presented as the only sufficient condition of the consequent of the conditional statement.

Part B

The Apology, correctly Apologia, is a philosophical work that documents Socrates’ trial. The meaning of apologia is a presentation of a case in one’s own defense, which is what Socrates offered the jury and the public that had gathered to take part in his trial. Socrates was accused of being a heretic by not worshiping the deities of that time and misleading the youth in his charge (Plato 2000). As a leading philosopher, Socrates was in charge of the education of the youth of Athens. The people who brought theses charges against him were those slighted by his philosophies. Socrates believed that he was tasked by the gods to enlighten the people of Athens by showing them that the acceptance of ignorance was the beginning of knowledge.

As part of his defense, Socrates offered a speech to the Athenians present, seeking to explain his actions from a philosophical standpoint. In his address, he referred to himself as a gadfly poking the lazy horse that was Athens from its slumber. The metaphor referred to Socrates’ calling to investigate on the prevalence of knowledge among the experts on different fields of study. His findings illustrated that those proclaimed experts only pretended to have profound knowledge, but lacked in-depth understanding of their fields of expertise. Socrates went about stirring them into action from the state they had put themselves.

The relevance of this metaphor to the role that philosophy to intellectual pursuits is to stir the academicians from a state of contentment with the advances made so far. As a gadfly, philosophy should continuously wake the academicians, ensuring that the inquisition of knowledge is relegated. Philosophy serves to remind that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding should stem from the acceptance of ignorance, contrasted with the arrogance of the Athenians who purported to possess wisdom but on further inquisition by Socrates were proved arrogant in their ignorance.

The men in Socrates time were insulted by his inquisitions, which proved their ignorance on matters they professed excellence. Instead of seeing the challenged posed by Socrates’ findings, they were quick to take offence (Plato 2000). The inquiries were viewed as a personal attack by Socrates, and the ‘targets’ instead sought to eliminate Socrates by propagating trumped up charges against him. These charges were proved baseless, but all the same, Socrates was condemned to death. This defensive strategy adopted by the Athenians did not help them in the long term. Constructive criticism is useful to the development of academic fields.

As a part of his defense, Socrates mentioned that the unexamined life is not worth living. He referred to his opponents and their objection to his inquiries into their intellectual pursuits. They were opposed to the examination the Socrates carried out into their work and understanding of it. Most were found to lack an understanding of the fields they purported to be experts. Socrates had humiliated them by exposing their ignorance. In their anger, they missed the point of the inquiries Socrates made into their work. An examination of their lives’ work was vital to provide insight into the accomplishments and failures made.

This point is relevant to our daily lives. The stocktaking that Socrates mentioned is important to illuminate the advances people make as well as the shortcomings encountered. Organizations carry out this analysis on a regular basis to ensure its survival and growth. This review should not only be restricted to such organizations but also extended to all spheres of life. Without it, there is no account made to the activities carried out on a daily basis. It is philosophically immoral to live a life without introspection, as this is a requirement of any being that possess intelligence and a desire of self-improvement.

The only way to ensure constant development and avoid stagnation, such as the lazy horse Socrates described Athens to be, is to set the course of constant introspection and improvement (Plato 2000). As a society and individuals, stagnation arises from arrogance nurtured by perceived excellence. There is so much that the human race is yet to understand; hence, arrogance would be folly. These types of fallacies are cultivated by egos that refuse to accept the limited nature of the human mind verses the limitless universe. There is a lot to be discovered, and even that, which is known, can still be improved. The knowledge of human ignorance is the only key to gain wisdom.

Socrates understood the prophecy of the oracle at Delphi to be a riddle as he was considered himself the most ignorant man in Athens. His wisdom, as prophesied by the oracle, lay in his acknowledgement of his ignorance. Socrates was open to learn as opposed to the other distinguished men in Athens who considered themselves masters in their respective fields. Their ignorance lay in their arrogance juxtaposed with Socrates wisdom that lay in his acceptance of ignorance. To truly learn, one must accept the limited knowledge one possess, hence the process of learning will emanate from the quest to eliminate the ignorance.

Socrates was a pioneer in the methods used in presentation of arguments. In his trial, the formal arguments he presented served to negate the accusations levied against him by his detractors. He used various methods in his cross-examination of the accusers, for example, Meletus. He backed Meletus into a corner by proving that his allegations of heresy and atheism were unfounded because Meletus accused Socrates of believing in demigods who were sons of gods (Plato 2000). It does not make sense to believe in something but not its progenitor. In his lifetime, Socrates provided philosophies that are still applicable to our lives today and to the future generations.















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