Follow my ex’s dad’s advice…really

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I’ll be really upfront about the fact that I’ve made some mistakes in life. Except for a couple years in late grade school, my parents homeschooled me all the way up through high school graduation, and I decided to go to college too early. I dropped out of a couple of colleges before finding the right one. I took out too many loans for undergrad and then for grad school. I got married at age twenty-three and then divorced at twenty-eight.

Yeah, that’s right, I got married when I was twenty-three. Generally, I would advise against getting married that young. …


How to argue your way out of a paper bag

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Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

In this article, I’m going to show you how to strengthen your reasoning skills so that you can have more successful and interesting argumentative discussions online and otherwise in real life. To do this, I’m going to distinguish between two senses of the word ‘argue’ and then show you how the sense important for critical thinking is related to reasoning in general.

Intro

I recently watched an panel discussion between a handful of scientists and philosophers on the nature of information. At one point in the discussion, the philosopher (James Ladyman) was asked a question about whether or not information was physical, according to him. He replied that before answering directly it was necessary to make a distinction between a few things one might mean by those terms. One of the scientists playfully interjected, “Philosophers….” …


A recent scientific paper says ‘possibly’. Here’s how it works.

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Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

A new science paper argues that if consciousness is best understood in terms of integrated information (a somewhat popular idea) then the mind is probably electromagnetic in nature. Most of the paper is pretty technical, although the core idea is fairly accessible. Here’s how it works.

History

Scientists and philosophers have long questioned the place of the mind in nature. Whether the mind is just another part of the physical world — however complicated and well organized — or whether it stands in some way outside the rest of the world is a debate emblematic of a perennial philosophical question.

For much of the twentieth century, the bulk of scientists and philosophers developed a pretty materialistic theory of mentality. The mind isn’t anything extra special in nature. Everything in nature is material — maybe with exceptions for abstract mathematical objects like sets and their ilk. …


I promise you’ve encountered this extremely common bad reasoning before…

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I taught logic and critical thinking at the college level for two years, between the years 2015 and 2017. Despite my preconceived notions, one of the most difficult errors in reasoning to catch and correct was not one most people seem to have heard of before. But it’s all over the place in real life. I think you’ll find it useful to know about it.

In my experience, it’s almost never a good idea to tell someone that you teach logic or philosophy. People seem to have some funny ideas about what it is that philosophers do, so reactions tend to range from mild curiosity to confident assertions that philosophy has been supplanted by science to questions about my opinion of acupuncture. …


Philosophical Tools & Definitions Series

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Photo by Timea Kadar from Pexels

This is the first article of its kind at Beetle Inbox. It’s my intention to provide some basic groundwork by way of philosophical definitions, which form a series of articles that can be easily referenced.

To do philosophy, we need to be able to agree about our language. A huge amount of confusion can result otherwise. So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at what philosophers mean by the word ‘proposition’.

What are propositions?

First things first: I’m not an expert on propositions. Some people are, and they write really interesting books about them. Trenton Merricks, a philosopher at the University of Virginia, for example, has written a very interesting book about propositions fairly recently. …


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Let’s build a society. Specifically, let’s build American society. And let’s do it in our imaginations.

It’s possible to cut up the American population and then reorganize it into various groups along a wide variety of ideological lines. If we look at how people respond to authority, we could divide people into roughly two groups: libertarian vs. authoritarian.

Or, if we wanted to think along traditional political lines and according to how they voted in the past, we could divide people into Democrat vs. Republican. …


Answers to the GF Fallacy Reasoning Exercises

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

To make things simpler, I’m going to introduce you to some logical symbols that will make our task easier.

The symbol ‘→’ means if…then. If you put symbols representing declarative statements on either side of it, it becomes a conditional proposition.

So, if the letter ‘R’ means to denote Rex is a dog, and if the letter ‘M’ means to denote Rex is a mammal, then ‘R → M’ means If Rex is a dog, then Rex is a mammal.

Also, we can use this symbol, ‘~’, to mean it is not the case that or it is false that or just simply not. So if we want to say that Rex is not a mammal, we can represent this as: ~M. …


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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

In a previous post, I went over a couple of very common errors in reasoning, called denying the antecedent and affirming the consequent.

At the end of that article, I promised to provide some exercises. Here they are, as well as their answers.

Here are the exercises. See if you can determine if the following are good or bad arguments. If an argument is invalid, which fallacy does it commit? You might have to re-arrange the sentences or put them into an if/then format to see the error.

  1. If you want to seem childish, you will enjoy driving a go-kart. But you dislike seeming childish, so you would hate driving a go-kart. …

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Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

This is a publication about theoretical philosophy. The goal of Beetle Inbox is philosophical communication, which you can think of as being in the same vein as science communication.

Whereas there has been a lot of public effort in recent years towards promoting science education in terms that are digestible to non-scientists, the same cannot be said for philosophy. As it happens, philosophers just generally aren’t very good at marketing themselves.

Philosophy is a deeply interesting and rich intellectual enterprise, and I think it deserves a seat at the public intellectual table. It’s already there anyway, but often it goes unmentioned and, consequently, uncritically accepted. …


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Photo by Caroline Grondin on Unsplash

Beetle Inbox is a publication about theoretical philosophy. Of course, all philosophy is, in some sense, theoretical. The use of the term “theoretical philosophy” here refers to a distinction in curriculum content as opposed to a distinction in methodology.

You can read more about the historical use of this term on Wikipedia, but the takeaway is this: theoretical philosophy can be contrasted with what is sometimes called “practical” philosophy or sometimes “moral” philosophy. …

About

Joshua Jarrott

I’m a PhD Candidate in philosophy at Central European University. I want to help people get excited about ideas.

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