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Flashcards in Epistemology arguments Deck (31)
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What is locke's argument against innate knowledge ?

To be innate, a concept must be present in the mind at birth

The idea of God is not present in the minds of young children

Therefore there are no innate ideas. These ideas showing up only demonstrate that our minds have the capacity to form these from experience we have

If there were innate ideas, they would be universally agreed upon
God is not universally agreed upon
There are whole societies who do not have such ideas and principles. The existence of different religions around the world show the contradiction of the idea of God
Therefore no innate ideas


What is Hume's copy principle ?

Our mind takes in sense impressions and reflects on these to create ideas

Eg.. If we take in the sense impressions of round, red, juicy and soft, through reflection, we get the idea of a tomato
This is a copy of sense impressions in our minds

Hume argues all ideas derive from these sources as if you lack the relevant sense, you cannot form ideas associated with it
I.e. A blind person cannot form the idea of red

He would say we came to acquire the concept of God by piercing together attributes to form the idea of God.
Loving is extended to all loving


What is Hume's own criticism of his copy principle ?

He says if you are given a spectrum of the colour blue, you could think of a colour in the middle of two colours in the spectrum
I.e. One shade lighter and one shade darker...
This would not require sense experience to create this colour

Therefore not everything comes from sense experience

how would empiricists know something without having a direct sense impression of it?


What's plato's argument for rationalism? (Forms)

Empiricists believe all ideas are copies of sense impressions
Some ideas are not such as the idea of 'beauty'
Which applies to many different sense expressions like music and landscape. Abstract and universal ideas like beauty cannot be tied back to one particular sense impression

Therefore they come from a perfect and innate ideal FORM of beauty


What are Plato's forms (4)

Ideal perfect versions of something

Eternal and unchanging concepts

Grasped through reason and not the senses

Metaphysical (outside material world)
-platonic world


What is Hume's criticism of Plato's idea of forms ?

Beauty is a projection of our inner sentiments onto objects.
We gain certain feelings from objects because of the mind's productive faculty and we give it a label.
So, when I call a sunset beautiful, this is not the real quality of the sunset but my feeling of pleasure from looking at it treated as if it were a quality of the object itself.
This is why people have different ideas of beauty. It is in the eye of the beholder.
This removes the need for an innate form supporting empirical claims.


What are Kant's conceptual schemes? How do they support rationalism?

Hume argues that we are born with blank slates.

Kant argues that experience would be meaningless without some pre existing ideas ideas build into our minds to start with
If we were blank slates we would just end up with a bunch of colours, sounds and smells with no order in our minds.

He argues we have an innate conceptual scheme that interprets information so we can make sense of it.

An example of this is causation.
We can only understand that the world operates according to rules like "every effect has a cause" if I am born with this principle as it is not something we can have a direct sense impression of.

Kant says we have a conceptual scheme in place to help us understand how one thing will affect something else. I.e throwing a ball on the ground and it bounces.

He argues that innate ideas must exist as with the categories from conceptual schemes- like time, space, self and causation, experience would be meaningless jumbo


What is The purpose of Hume's fork?

To set out limits to our knowledge
To distinguish truth and nonsense
It helps us not accept anything without good reason

To show that synthetic a priori knowledge does not exist


What is Hume's fork?

It distinguishes between what Hume thinks are the two types of knowledge
-relations of ideas
Thinking without justified through experience ... Maths
-matters of fact
Entirely know through experience

Relations of ideas are presented through
-when we can intellectually grasp the concept of something that couldn't be otherwise
-logically demonstrating something without reference to sense experience

Relations of ideas are certain as the truth of proposition is necessary
I.e. A triangle has 3 sides
These are analytic truths

Matters of fact are presented through
Inward sentiment
- emotions we have that we discover by looking inwards like sympathy
Outward sense
-sense impressions like colours

Matters of fact are not certain
The proposition is not necessarily true
I.e. I will pass the exam
These are synthetic truths
"The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible"


What are the three options you can come out with when you put a truth to the test with Hume's fork

Synthetic truths - a posteriori
Analytic truths - a priori

Or nonsense !


What is the implications for science in regard to Hume's fork?

Science is based on experience and as a matter of fact
This means it is not necessarily true.
It's validity come from assumption which is based on experience

Just because the sun has come out every day, doesn't mean it will come out tomorrow


How does Hume's fork support empiricism.

Shows synthetic a priori knowledge is not valid
Like God


What are Descartes' three sceptical arguments?

(List the three)

Argument from illusion
Argument from dreaming
The 'Brian in vats' argument


What is Descartes' three waves of doubt explained with the conclusion?

Descartes presents three sceptical waves of doubt which he later disregards and builds on the foundations of what we can actually know

Descartes first argument is the argument from illusion. We can experience illusions that are indistinguishable from true experience.
Descartes then deduced that we cannot fully trust our perceptions and know that this isn't an illusion now.

His second wave of doubt is his argument from dreaming where he says we have dreams indistinguishable from true experience. Therefore we cannot be fully certain that we are not dreaming now.

His third wave of doubt is his argument of an 'evil demon' or 'brains in vats'. He says we cannot know for certain that an evil demon is not controlling our perceptions as we would not know it if he was as our only way of knowing it would be through the perceptions which he would be controlling. Phantom limbs present us with the idea that sensations are in our minds. Descartes takes this further by suggesting that everything could be in our minds and we are "brains in vats"

Descartes refutes this.
We have the ability to think and question where we are so we must exist. (I think therefore I am). He also deduced that because we have the idea of God as a perfect being, he must exist to put the idea of himself in us (Descartes trademark argument). We can also know the external world exists as we have an idea of it. We know our own minds would not deceive us and an omnibenevolent God would not deceive us so it must exist.


What three things according to Descartes can we know?

We exist (I think therefore I am)
God exists
The external world exists


What is paradox presented in Plato and Meno's slave not argument ?

Man cannot enquire into what he knows or does not know.
If he knows, then he will have no need to enquire.
If he does not know, he does not know that subject about which he is to enquire.

1 we already know it so learning is redundant
2 we cannot enquire without a frame of reference

Therefore gaining new knowledge is impossible so all knowledge must be a priori


What example does Plato use in his slave boy argument? What is the purpose of this?

Plato uses the example of a slave boy. Socrates draws out a square and asks the slave boy with no education to find the area. Socrates drew out an answer from the boy with prompts.

The purpose of this is to demonstrate that the slave boy must have an innate grasp of mathematical truths as he found the area with no previous mathematical teaching.

So we must be born with some innate knowledge.


What would Hume say in response to Plato's slave boy argument?

Hume would say that the slave was guided.

Hume's fork shows mathematical knowledge to be analytic.
The boy grasped he rules of geometry through the prompts which are a form of teaching. Once he grasped he concepts, he could apply it to the problem. Once known, the rules of geometry can be applied without experience.


What is the problem with arguments like Plato's and Descartes that rely on the non natural ?

There can be no knowledge of metaphysical forms as we cannot experience these through our senses.

They are outside the natural world so cannot be checked.

These arguments rely on humanity to have faith rather than on sufficient evidence.


What is chomsky's argument for universal grammar ?

Children often do not have explicit language teaching but by the age of four, they can speak their native language to a remarkably high level.

They have a poverty of stimulus. They don't have enough input or stimulus of language teaching to justify the level of language abilities they have by the age of 4.

Chomsky proposes that they must have some built in knowledge of language structures to facilitate language acquisition.

He believes innate knowledge of certain principles guides them in developing grammar.

All the languages in the world share a set of syntactic rules and principles. This "universal grammar is innate"


What is the poverty of stimulus? And example

Young children do not have enough input/ stimulus in terms of language teaching to justify the language ability they have at this age

They don't make mistakes expected if universal grammar was not innate
"What did John meet a man who sold?"
These mistakes are rarely made by children


How can Locke criticise Chomsky?

Locke disregards the idea that we have certain principles in us innately but are not conscious of them.

If young children do know how to construct certain sentences and not make certain mistakes but could not tell you what these rules are, it does not count as knowledge.
As it makes no sense to say you know something without being aware of it


What is the second criticism of chomsky's argument?

Maybe it is not propositional knowledge but more of an ability or capacity to do certain things.

It would then not tell us anything significant about the world


How does Leibniz attack locke?

He accused Locke of attacking a "straw man"

Locke argues that because babies are not born with the ideas of God or logic that there cannot be innate knowledge.

He said no rationalist really believes this and argued a more subtle view of the mind being a blank slate, The mind was like a veined block of marble.


What is Leibniz's marble analogy?

The mind has an inner structure like the veins of a marble and is not empty like a blank slate.

This structure includes necessary truths which are eternal and unchanging and therefore cannot be derived from experience. This is because senses cannot prove universal necessity but only inductive knowledge. Inductive knowledge cannot be necessary as the conclusion can be false if the premises are right.

We can understand the innate ideas of
-the principle of sufficient reason - all events have causes
-principle of non contradiction - something cannot exist and not exist at the same time

Throughout life we uncover the veins of the marble and cut away from prevents them from appearing.


What might Locke say in response to Leibniz?

If the fact Locke attacks the "straw man" undermines the sufficiency of that part of the argument, the other parts still stand.

If we have innate knowledge then why is it not universal?
Also, the marble analogy still argues for innate knowledge being present but we are not conscious of them until they are unlocked. Locke may then say that with that idea, we could say we are born knowing everything!


What are all the rationalist arguments ?

Descarte's trademark argument
Plato's forms
Kant's conceptual schemes
Descartes's waves of doubt
Plato's slave boy
Chomsky's universal grammar
Leibniz's block of marble


What are all the empiricist arguments?

Hume's copy principle
Simple and complex ideas and ostension
Locke's case against innate knowledge
Hume's responded
Hume's fork


What does Hume say in response to Kant's conceptual schemes?

Causation is merely an expectation that we have for the past to be like the future.
We have no guarantee that when the ball hits the floor that it will bounce.
Causation is formed from experiences we have of 2 things happening together continuously.

Causation is are a result from experiences from the last being expected to be the same in the future


How could Hume potentially combat his own criticism of his copy principle? (Missing shade of blue response)

Problem - how would empiricists know something without having a direct sense impression of it

Solution - missing shade of blue could be a complex idea made up of other colours which would be simpler ideas. So the missing shade would have had to have been acquired through experience of other colours and sense impressions that combined to make it