What Is Philosophy?

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 28 October 2016

What Is Philosophy?

While Philosophy has no clear cut definition, it can be described as the act of questioning ideas, thoughts, and beliefs to try to form answers supported by good reasoning. These answers are not always clearly supported by fact like scientific questions, but use logic to express what a person views as correct. Questions of a philosophical nature can be grouped into four main branches and use a method of arguments and logic to support a reasonable opinion or view. Four major areas of philosophical questions are: Metaphysics, Epistemology, questions related to value, and logic (Moore & Bruder, 2005).

Metaphysics is an area of philosophy concerned with questions related to being or existence. Philosophers in this area ask questions like “Are we really here? ” The second area, Epistemology, is concerned with questions relating to knowledge. Some questions in Epistemology are “What is truth? ” and “Is there a limit to what is known? ” The third area, questions related to value, includes moral, social, and political philosophy as well as aesthetics. This area questions ethics, society, government, art, and the justifications of each.

The final area is questions of logic. These types of questions seek to outline and establish the validity of correct inference. Any philosophical question can be placed into one of these four areas. Philosophical and scientific questions are different, even though they will both try to answer the same questions sometimes. While both types use facts, logic, and reasoning, scientific questions will end with an answer of how things work. Philosophic questions will discuss how things should be. A scientific question will have an answer based on facts and experimentation.

Just gathering facts and doing experiments do not answer philosophical questions. While science will question and try to answer, “What is the Universe made of? ” through mathematic equations, philosophy will try to answer, “Is there a purpose for the Universe? ” Philosophers will support their views using argument and logic. Without these, a reasonable person cannot be expected to believe or agree with what the philosopher is stating. An argument is has two areas, premises and conclusions. The conclusion of an argument is the point or view the philosopher is trying to establish.

The premises are the reasons why the philosopher believes his conclusion is correct. Two ways in which an argument can be proven as incorrect occurs when the premises are wrong or when the premises did not support the conclusion logically. Fallacies are common mistakes in which the premises did not support the conclusion. Some of the more common fallacies are: Argumentum ad hominem (argument to the person), appeals to emotion, straw man, red herring, begging the question, and black-or-white fallacy (Moore & Bruder, 2005).

The Argumentum ad hominem fallacy occurs when someone tries to discredit an opinion by criticizing the person whom gave the opinion instead of giving logical reasons why the opinion is incorrect. The appeals to emotion fallacy can occur when someone justifies his or her conclusion by playing on the listener’s emotions or fears. The straw man fallacy occurs when a philosopher will rebut a view by refuting a misrepresentation of that view. The red herring argument happens when someone speaks of an issue that is unrelated to the view in question.

When someone is begging the question, that person is using a premise that is almost identical to the conclusion of the argument. This is also called circular reasoning. The final fallacy to discuss is the black-or-white fallacy. This argument states that if one part of the view is correct, then the other is correct as well. It only leaves the option for two answers, either yes or no. Philosophers try not to make these common mistakes, but sometimes it happens.

Philosophy, when contemplated and argued correctly, can help a person in critical thinking skills and keeping an open mind. Sometimes in philosophy, the question is asked just to be asked and someone will try to answer it because it interests them. Not all questions are life or society changing, but some can make people question if their thoughts and beliefs are correct. Philosophy can push the boundaries and question people’s assumptions of the world. References Moore, B. N. , & Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (6th ed. ). Boston: McGraw-Hill.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 28 October 2016

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