Philosophy Questions essay
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Q15. Explain what Libertarianism is. What additional question must be asked if libertarianism is true (don’t just give me the name of the question, but state the actual question)? What is one way for the Libertarian to respond to that question?
Libertarianism is the point of approach that tends to emphasize that every person has the right to do what he/she wants to do. It strongly advocates the right of every person to do what he or she want as far as their actions do not interfere with the rights of other people. Libertarians defend the rights of every person regarding life, property ownership, and liberty without the interference of the state or the government. From the libertarianism point of approach, human relationships are voluntary in nature. Those actions that should be prohibited are those that initiate force to those that have not used force against one. These actions can be rape, robbery with violence, fraud among others.
If the government or the state does not intervene in the activities of the people, would there be problems that would arise? Every action that an individual does should be geared to his or her own good as well as the good of others. However, what seems to interfere with the welfare of other people should be avoided at all costs. Although human beings are rational in nature, there is a possibility that allowing the people do behave the way they want in the society would lead to creation of an anarchical society. However, it is instilling maximum responsibility among the people through social contract that people will be able to respect the welfare of others.
Human beings are rational and can be able to handle all situations that they face with rationality to ensure that their actions do not interfere with other people. The role of the government or the state is not necessarily required. The responsibility bestowed to the state or the government in leadership is to give people rules and laws to follow. Since the liberationists affirm that people have enough rationality, then it would be irrelevant for the people to give up some of their freedoms to the state. Instead, they can use their rationality in their everyday interaction with each other.
Q17. Present and explain the Conceivability Argument for the Substance Dualism. Be sure to include all the relevant assumptions and explanations for the premises. Present and explain one objection to the Conceivability Argument.
The conceivability argument is discussed in René Descartes’ sixth meditation. In the context of this work, Rene Descartes argues for the substance dualism. This idea holds the view that in addition to our physical bodies, we have immaterial souls. The soul is not made of physical material. The soul can, therefore, be perceived as a metaphysical object. The immaterial soul is related closely to the body but continues to exist even after the destruction or the death of the body, an idea that is also held by religious practitioners (Descartes 1969). Whatever can one conceive, it is then possible. For example, if one can conceive that the mind can exist independently of the body, then it is possible.
Descartes explains what is termed as the argument for dualism or the “conceivability argument.” There are different premises that come out clearly in the argument. Firstly, there is the claim that all things that can be perceived by the human beings, can be made by God to be exactly understood by the individual. Secondly, there is the possibility that if an object A exists separately from B, according to one’s understanding, then God can make A exist separately from B. Thirdly, if God can make A exist separately from B, then this means that A and B are very distinct entities (Descartes 1969). Fourthly, Descartes argues that he understands that his mind exists distinctly from his own body.
He also added that God could make the mind exist separately from the body. He asserted that his mind and the body were very different entities. Furthermore, there is the premise that the mind exists to think. Descartes also claims that if the body exists, then it is an extended thing. Descartes noted that if some issue can be conceived by the mind, then it is possible.
One of the objections to the conceivability argument is that there are many instances, where one can imagine or conceive many situations yet they turn out to be impossible. For example, we can create two statements. The first is: the president of America. The second is: Barack Obama. A person, who conceives the two statements as different, might not be justified because it is not true. The two statements are the same and it is so impossible to create differences among them. In addition, it is also argued that our actions are informed by our thoughts. Conversely, our thoughts are affected by our physical activities or actions. This interaction could not be possible if both entities are not dependent on each other, meaning that they exist due to their causal interactions.
Q18. What is the Conceptual Objection to Substance Dualism (as presented by Lowe)? How does Lowe deal with this objection? Be sure to include and explain the theory of causation Lowe rejects and the theory of causation he “accepts” to show that the objection does not work.
Lowe opposes the concept held by the dualist. He asserts that there is nothing like a mind (Lowe 2000). He adds that there is no causality relationship between the mind and the body. To him, the only thing that can be said to exist is minded-beings, who can think rationally. He objects the idea that was held by Rene Descartes regarding the mind or soul and the body. He claims that a person or a human being is a substance with a soul that stands on a material being (the body) with specific special relations.
Lowe agrees with the idea that there is no direct causation between the physical and the non-physical substance. However, there is a concept regarding the mental and the physical substance that he refutes. According to the dualists, the mental and the physical substance are quite different and have nothing in common. This scope, therefore, leaves no room to allow for debate regarding the relationship on causality between the mental and the physical. This objection may not be varied (Lowe 2000). This is because, the idea held by Rene Descartes, who is the main proponent of the idea on dualism, is that there is a possibility that the mind can exist independently on the body. The dualists go ahead and support their point of stand using a condition. They argue that possibility of existence of the two entities, the mind and the body, is in presence of a supernatural intervention, for instance, God.
Lowe also rejects the notion that some aspects of the causing agent must be transmitted to the other element. He explains this using the analogy of electricity, which drives some aspects of machines, and is not moving by itself. Furthermore, Lowe also denies the idea that the causality relationship must be locally based. There are instances, where the action comes from a distance. He explains this using the concept of Newton on Gravitational force. However, the cause and effect regarding the inhumane materials cannot be the basis to predict the response of human beings. Human beings have rationality, which makes them even highly unpredictable in their response. Physical structures cannot be compared with the complex human structure.
Q19. Present the Divisibility Argument. Be sure to explain the premises. Present and explain one objection to the Indivisibility Argument.
Rene Descartes presents the difference between the body and the mind in meditation VI. The main element of concentration in this area is the idea of extension. The body can be divided into parts ad infinitum. Bodies are divisible but the mind is not so. There is no possibility of having half a mind. The argument is that the mind and the body are different. In this case, the mind is not divisible. The body is divisible (Descartes1969). Therefore, the mind and the body are not the same thing.
There are different premises that are contained in the divisibility argument. Firstly, there is the contention that the mind, a non-extended entity, is not divisible. In addition, all extended things are divisible. Entities like the mind are not divisible. The other premise contained in this idea is that no minds are extended things. The idea of the divisibility is the one of the concepts that is used to prove that the mind and the body are two different entities (Descartes 1969). In the divisibility argument, the contentions raised can only be varied, if the mind is treated as a non-physical or an immaterial substance.
The premise that the mind, a non-extended entity, is indivisible may not be justified. For example, there is a high possibility that the destruction of a part of the brain will consequently result in destruction of the mind. Furthermore, there is the knowledge that the mind, which is metaphysical, requires metaphysical mechanisms to divide it, for instance, when one thinks about two or more issues at the same time. This can be termed as dividing the mind twice or more times. Physical division here should have been differentiated from metaphysical division. Whatever it is, physical undergoes physical division and the metaphysical undergoes metaphysical division.
From the indivisibility argument, there is the possibility that the mind can be divided. From the physical point of view, it is not possible to divide the mind. On the other hand, it is possible to divide it from the metaphysical point of view. The ideas held by the indivisibility arguments are limited to the metaphysical division.
Q21. Present the Causal Closure Argument (be sure to state the name of the principles used in the premises). What is the argument intended to show? What is one possible reply to the Causal Closure Argument that the dualist might make?
The causal closure argument tends to view the physical phenomena as having a physical cause to explain its existence. To a greater extent, the causal closure points to the idea that there is no relationship between the physical and the non-physical. It can be applied in arguments concerning the physicalism in relation to the mind. For instance, if there is a belief that thinking coming from the mind may cause the physical body to move, there is also an assumption that there is a possibility that other physical elements cause the movement. It is not in order to claim that both the physical and the non-physical aid in the movement (Lowe 2000). One of the elements has to cause the movement. The conclusion from the causal closure argument is that there is no non-physical controlling the physical. Therefore, the mental causes of our physical behaviour are our physical parts.
One of the premises of this principle states that there is the transfer of the mental to physical causation. The second premise is that the world is causally closed. The ultimate premise is held to be that the mental is the physical. This is in contrast to the dualists, who hold the idea that the physical (body) is very different from the mental (mind). From the point of view of Rene Descartes, the mind and the body are independent. The destruction or death of the physical, for instance, may not interfere with the survival of the non-physical. Since, this idea believes that the mental causes the physical to act, then the dualist would intervene and claim that it is not necessarily that there is interdependence between the two (the mind and the body). The two are mutually exclusive elements. The behaviour of one does not affect the behaviour of the other according to the dualist’s perception.
Q22. Present and explain the Thinking Animal Argument for Animalism. Be sure to discuss why Olson believes the premises are plausible. Explain what it means regarding our persistence if it is true that we are animals.
According to animalism, human beings are animals with a difference in their thinking capability. Olson claims that it is hard to explain that human beings are not animals. From his point of view, human beings exist as organism. The organism is the individual. This concept is the one that Olson calls animalism. There is the possibility that something can be an animal and yet not be identical to a certain specific animal. The animal concept explained by Olson argues that human beings are animals made in the same matter as the other animals and living in the same place (Olson 2003).
The underlying concept in animalism is that animals are material things. In addition, since human beings have the same composition, then it consequently means that they are animals. Being a person means that one is self-conscious, intelligent and able to think rationally. Furthermore, a person has freewill and should be morally responsible. Therefore, there is the possibility that we are more than animal and retain the animalistic characteristics (Olson 2003). According to the ideas held by Olson, there is a great psychological difference between the people and the animals themselves. Olson categorizes human beings as very special animals.
There are different justifications regarding animalism. Firstly, there is the premise that there is a human animal. The second is that the human animal thinks. Any material thing that thinks must be an animal. In addition, Olson claims that it does not imply that everything that does an act similar to another one is identical to the other (Olson 2003). It only means that there are some resemblances in the way the two things act but not necessarily meaning that they are identical.
The concept the Olson uses to describe human beings as thinking animals can be taken to another level. For example, he claims that human beings are psychologically different from other animals by the fact that they can be able to think and act rationally in all conditions. This persistence of actions makes them different. According to Olson, this does not imply that human animals are identical to animals but claims the fact that human beings can be able to think in all situation means that they are different from animals (Olson 2003). The animalistic characteristic of human beings is the material aspect.
Q16. Present Frankfurt’s counterexample. What is the case supposed to show?
Harry Frankfurt counterexamples were in reaction to the principle of alternative possibilities. With reference to the principle of alternative possibilities, an agent is responsible for an action only if the agent had the capacity to do otherwise (Frankfurt 1969). According to Frankfurt, an individual should not be held morally responsible for an action if he/she had the capacity to act otherwise. The theoretical knowledge to do otherwise does not alter our capacity to do otherwise. Moral responsibility is compatible with determinism since it does not require autonomy to do otherwise. Frankfurt gives an example in this.
The example is about Donald, who is to vote for Democratic Party and only one instance that he will not; if he thinks about the American defeat in Iraq. Ms.White plans to implant a device in his head to influence him to vote for Democrats. Regardless of the device, he is most likely to vote for Democrats (Frankfurt 1969). To Frankfurt, unless external influence, such as coercion is present, an individual doesn’t need to have an alternative to be perceived as morally responsible. A person can be morally responsible even without an alternative.
Q20. Provide an example of causal over determination.
Over determination is the concept used to refer to the situation, where the causes are more than sufficient to explain an event (Bunzl 1979). These causes must be independent in a way that only one cause is enough to explain the event. In causal overdetermination, the greatest challenge is to understand which one is the sufficient cause that culminated in the happening of an event.
For instance, there is the case of Sigmund Freud and the analysis of the dream. In this case, he asserts that a dream can be a product of very many events that happen to an individual. For example, unresolved conflicts, day’s happenings, repressed thoughts among others. In this case, when an individual has dreamt, a psychologist may not know exactly what the cause of the dream is if he is to assist the person in understanding him/herself better (Freud 1976). He/she might be confronted with many causes that may obscure him/her from getting the real picture of the events that are happening in that individual. Another example of police officers chasing a robber and they happen to shoot him all at once. In this case, if more than one bullet was involved in killing the robber, a question can arise as to which bullet was just sufficient to kill him.