Philosophy and Ethics
Adams College Transition Work
Philosophy and Ethics
This transition work is intended to prepare you for A level study. We would like you to work through the tasks listed.
You must bring your completed work with you on Wednesday 5th September, ready to demonstrate your understanding of the transition tasks in lessons. Teachers will test your knowledge and understanding of this work in class tests, the week beginning 17th September.
Types of Argument and Reasoning
You will need to understand these terms and be able to explain them/use them appropriately in both Philosophy and Ethics.
Deductive Arguments and Reasoning
Deductive reasoning, or deduction (top-down logic), starts out with a general statement, or hypothesis, and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion. Deductive reasoning links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true. The scientific method uses deduction to test hypotheses and theories.
In deductive reasoning, if something is true of a class of things in general, it is also true for all members of that class. For example, “All men are mortal. Harold is a man. Therefore, Harold is mortal.” For deductive reasoning to be sound, the hypothesis must be correct. It is assumed that the premises, “All men are mortal” and “Harold is a man” are true. Therefore, the conclusion is logical and true.
It’s possible to come to a logical conclusion even if the generalisation is not true. If the generalization is wrong, the conclusion may be logical, but it may also be untrue. For example, the argument, “All bald men are grandfathers. Harold is bald. Therefore, Harold is a grandfather,” is valid logically but it is untrue because the original statement is false.
Inductive Arguments and Reasoning
Inductive reasoning, also known as induction, or, informally, “bottom-up” logic, is a kind of reasoning that constructs or evaluates general propositions that are derived from specific examples. Here’s an example: “Almost all people are taller than 26 inches. Gareth is a person. Therefore, Gareth is almost certainly taller than 26 inches.” Inductive arguments are concerned with probability – how likely is something to be true.
Even if all of the premises are true in a statement, it is possible, in inductive reasoning, for the conclusion to be false. The conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.
Deductive reasoning (top-down logic) contrasts with inductive reasoning (bottom-up logic) in the following way: In deductive reasoning, a conclusion is reached from general statements, but in inductive reasoning the conclusion is reached from specific examples.
A priori statements or knowledge
A statement is considered a priori if it is true or false without the need for observation, can that be known by reason alone (prior – meaning before).
A posteriori statements or knowledge
A statement is considered a posteriori if it is true or false with the need for observation, that cannot that be known by reason alone (post – meaning after).
The intuitive distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is best seen in examples.
A posteriori: George V reigned from 1910 to 1936.” This is something that (if true) one must come to know a posteriori, because it expresses an empirical fact unknowable by reason alone.
A priori By contrast, consider the proposition, “If George V reigned for at least four days: then he reigned for more than three days.” This is something that one knows a priori, because it expresses a statement that one can derive by reason alone.
Synthetic and Analytic Statements
The analytic–synthetic distinction (also called the analytic–synthetic dichotomy) is a semantic (to do with language and logic) distinction, used primarily in philosophy and ethics to distinguish propositions (in particular, statements that are affirmative subject–predicate judgments) into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions.
Analytic propositions are true by virtue of their meaning. In other words, they are true by definition and need no further information in order to prove. For example:
‘All bachelors are male’ or ‘All triangles have three sides’. You do not need any extra information to prove these true.
Synthetic propositions are true by how their meaning relates to the world. The statement is not true in and of itself and so in order to prove or disprove the statement, additional information is needed. For example:
‘All bears are white’ – in order to prove or disprove this you would need to check all bears to see if they are white.
Please find your Philosophy transition tasks here