CHAPTER TWO: Philosophical Argumentation

We live in a time of multiple claims about truth. Many of these claims cannot be reconciled with each other. Some argue that truth is an elusive goal, a chimaera and that we should consider ourselves to be in a “post-truth” age. However, this kind of scepticism often reflects a failure to know how to rationally think through questions and arguments.

Philosophy has often recognized the difficulty of getting to the truth, but most philosophers still see the pursuit of truth as vital if we are to come to a better and better understanding of our experience. Logic is the discipline of thought whereby philosophers analyze and clarify arguments.


Ponder if you will…

What would the world be like if it was held that nothing is true?

  • How could we ever believe anything anyone told us?
  • What would stop liars from controlling the world?
  • How could courts of law determine any case before them?
  • How could we ever evaluate one person’s claim over another’s?
  • How could we ever trust anyone?

Although the attainment of truth is difficult, and perhaps human reason can never fully get us there on some questions, still, philosophy encourages us to strive for it. The pursuit of truth at a minimum helps us to become better thinkers, better reasoners, better arguers, or, as the Philosopher Richard Rorty has put it, better at “edifying” each other.

Logic:  the philosophical art of discerning the structure and truth of arguments attempting to prove propositions.

The word logic comes from the Greek logos, meaning word or reason, and from logike techne, meaning “the art of reasoning.” Key to this art is the ability to recognize and evaluate the structure and components of good arguments.

The remainder of this chapter borrows from Matthew J. Van Cleave’s Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking, Version 1.4, Chapter 1: “Reconstructing and Analyzing Arguments.” You will also find some common logical fallacies discussed in the Appendix to this textbook.



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PPSC PHI 1011: The Philosopher's Quest by Daniel G. Shaw, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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