When confronted with two courses of action I jot down on a piece of paper all the arguments in favor of each one, then on the opposite side I write the arguments against each one. Then by weighing the arguments pro and con and cancelling them out, one against the other, I take the course indicated by what remains.
Highly technical philosophical arguments of the sort many philosophers favor are absent here. That is because I have a prior problem to deal with. I have learned that arguments, no matter how watertight, often fall on deaf ears. I am myself the author of arguments that I consider rigorous and unanswerable but that are often not such much rebutted or even dismissed as simply ignored.
I am well acquainted with all the arguments against freedom of thought and speech - the arguments which claim that it cannot exist, and the arguments which claim that it ought not to. I answer simply that they don't convince me and that our civilization over a period of four hundred years has been founded on the opposite notice.
The terminology of philosophical art is coercive: arguments are powerful and best when they are knockdown, arguments force you to a conclusion, if you believe the premisses you have to or must believe the conclusion, some arguments do not carry much punch, and so forth. A philosophical argument is an attempt to get someone to believe something, whether he wants to beleive it or not. A successful philosophical argument, a strong argument, forces someone to a belief.
We go to the opening arguments or the closing arguments of a case, and we'd see which actor got the big one. I had a seven-page one once which just about killed me, and I thought, 'Oh, I'm going to get fired, that's it, I can't do it.' It was like a one-act play, and I had a few weeks to learn it, luckily. But it's terrifying.
What do you know about me, given that I believe in secrecy? ... If I stick where I am, if I don't travel around, like anyone else I make my inner journeys that I can only measure by my emotions, and express very obliquely and circuitously in what I write. ... Arguments from one's own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments.
The method I take to do this is not yet very usual; for instead of using only comparative and superlative Words, and intellectual Arguments, I have taken the course (as a Specimen of the Political Arithmetic I have long aimed at) to express myself in Terms of Number, Weight, or Measure; to use only Arguments of Sense, and to consider only such Causes, as have visible Foundations in Nature.
There are skeptics who do not come to their view because they have a source of income from carbon polluters. I don't mean to imply that they're all in that category at all. There are also those who are also not motivated by ideological resistance for any role of government. But I don't know of any arguments or any presenters of arguments that overturn the consensus that I think have gained any legitimacy.
I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, 'And the sun stood still... and hasted not to go down about a whole day' (Joshua x. 13) and 'He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time' (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.
Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence. The implications of having so many people so incapable of confronting opposing arguments with anything besides ad hominem responses reach far...
Ordinarily logic is divided into the examination of ideas, judgments, arguments, and methods. The two latter are generally reduced to judgments, that is, arguments are reduced to apodictic judgments that such and such conclusions follow from such and such premises, and method is reduced to judgments that prescribe the procedure that should be followed in the search for truth.
Interpretations of Muslim assimilation have gravitated between two arguments: that Muslims will remain as permanent outsiders or that Muslims will blend in with little difficulty at all. Mucahit Bilici demonstrates how wanting these arguments are. Finding Mecca in America takes us into the uncharted territory of what it is actually like to be Muslim immigrants in the United States. I am especially impressed by the study's theoretical depth and empirical insights.
It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.
Even though their arguments did not invoke religion, I think we all know what's behind these arguments. They're trying to protect religious beliefs from contradiction by science. They used to do it by prohibiting teachers from teaching evolution at all; then they wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative theory; now they want the supposed "weaknesses" in evolution pointed out. But it's all the same program - it's all an attempt to let religious ideas determine what is taught in science courses.
What was true of an ancient community of Christian believers struggling with a powerful and appealing philosophy is also true for Christians in a postmodern context. Arguments that deconstruct the regimes of truth at work in the late modern culture of global capitalism are indispensable. So also is a deeper understanding of the counterideological force of the biblical tradition. But such arguments are no guarantee that the biblical metanarrative will not be co-opted for ideological purposes of violent exclusion, nor do arguments prove the truth of the gospel. Only the nonideological, embracing, forgiving and shalom-filled life of a dynamic Christian community formed by the story of Jesus will prove the gospel to be true and render the idolatrous alternatives fundamentally implausible.
Brian J. Walsh
I've spent a life-time attacking religious beliefs and have not wavered from a view of the universe that many would regard as bleak. Namely, that it is a meaningless place devoid of deity. However I'm unwilling simply to repeat the old arguments of the past when, in fact, God is a moving target and is taking all sorts of new shapes and forms. The arguments used against the long bow are not particularly useful when debating nuclear weapons, and the simple arguments against the old model gods are not sufficient when dealing with the likes of Davies et al. For example, the notion that God didn't exist, doesn't exist but may come into existence through the spread of consciousness throughout the universe is too clever to be pooh-poohed along Bertrand Russell lines. And if I had the time I could give you half a dozen other scientific theologies that will need snappier footwork from the atheist of the future.
The social intuitionist model offers an explanation of why moral and political arguments are so frustrating: because moral reasons are the tail wagged by the intuitive dog. A dog's tail wags to communicate. You can't make a dog happy by forcibly wagging its tail. And you can't change people's minds by utterly refuting their arguments.
The dilemma I was faced with was one every parent faces sooner or later: you want to defend your child, of course; you stand up for your child, but you mustn't do it all too vehemently, and above all not too eloquently - you mustn't drive anyone into a corner. The educators, the teachers, will let you have your say, but afterwards they'll take revenge on your child. You may come up with better arguments - it's not too hard to come up with better arguments than the educators, the teachers - but in the end, your child to going to pay for it. Their frustration at being shown up is something they'll take out on the student.
how irrelevant the belief in God can be to religious experience-so irrelevant that the emotional structure of religious experiences can be transplanted to completely godless contexts with little of the impact lost-and when he had also, almost as an afterthought, included as an appendix thirty-six arguments for the existence of God, with rebuttals, his claim being that the most thorough demolition of these arguments would make little difference to the felt qualities of religious experience,
Scientists and theologians can't offer better than circular arguments, because there are no other kinds of arguments. Bible believers quote the Bible, and scientists quote other scientists. How do either scientists or theologians answer this question about the accuracy of their conclusions: "In reference to what?
Satire works in a bunch of specific ways, like a very precisely-geared bomb. It's a bit like something that looks harmless, and you swallow it, but once it's inside you it's too late, and it triggers, blowing up. And it's your specific inner beliefs and faulty arguments that trigger a satire bomb. If your arguments work, the bomb doesn't trigger, it doesn't need to.
As long as we try to project from the relative and conditioned to the absolute and unconditioned, we shall keep the pendulum swinging between dogmatism and skepticism. The only way to stop this increasingly tiresome pendulum swing is to change our conception of what philosophy is good for. But that is not something which will be accomplished by a few neat arguments. It will be accomplished, if it ever is, by a long, slow process of cultural change - that is to say, of change in common sense, changes in the intuitions available for being pumped up by philosophical arguments.
Complete knowledge of the nature of an analytic function must also include insight into its behavior for imaginary values of the arguments. Often the latter is indispensable even for a proper appreciation of the behavior of the function for real arguments. It is therefore essential that the original determination of the function concept be broadened to a domain of magnitudes which includes both the real and the imaginary quantities, on an equal footing, under the single designation complex numbers.
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Yes, I share your concern: how to program well -though a teachable topic- is hardly taught. The situation is similar to that in mathematics, where the explicit curriculum is confined to mathematical results; how to do mathematics is something the student must absorb by osmosis, so to speak. One reason for preferring symbol-manipulating, calculating arguments is that their design is much better teachable than the design of verbal/pictorial arguments. Large-scale introduction of courses on such calculational methodology, however, would encounter unsurmoutable political problems.
One of the arguments that authoritarian governments use to ward off the call for greater political freedom is to argue that American-style democracy is no guarantee of good policy... Over the years, I've grown used to these arguments, and my response has rarely wavered: Sure, we might make dumb choices sometimes, but we will defend, to the end, the right to make choices at all, because we believe that our collective conscience, freely expressed, will eventually lead us in the right direction. When it comes to guns, it is getting harder to muster that argument abroad. Every new shooting, every new failure of will and citizenship, slashes another hole in our credibility as a way of life.
["F]or it's not possible, " [Socrates] said, "for anybody to experience a greater evil than hating arguments. Hatred of arguments and hatred of human beings come about in the same way. For hatred of human beings arises from artlessly trusting somebody to excess, and believing that human being to be in every way true and sound and trustworthy, and then a little later discovering that this person is wicked and untrustworthy - and then having this experience again with another. And whenever somebody experiences this many times, and especially at the hands of just those he might regard as his most intimate friends and comrades, he then ends up taking offense all the time and hates all human beings and believes there's nothing at all sound in anybody.
Prior to Flew, major apologies for atheism were those of Enlightenment thinkers (David Hume, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Friedrich Nietzsche). Major philosophers of Flew's generation who were atheists: W. V. O. Quine and Gilbert Ryle. But none took the step of developing book-length arguments to support their personal beliefs. In later years, atheist philosophers who critically examined and rejected the traditional arguments for God's existence: Paul Edwards, Wallace Matson, Kai Nielsen, Paul Kurtz, J. L. Mackie, Richard Gale, Michael Martin. But their works did not change the agenda and framework of discussion the way Flew's innovative publications did.
He seems so frivolous and so careless, but he gives money to beggars, not frivolously or carelessly, but because he believes in giving money to beggars, and giving it to them 'where they stand'. He says he knows perfectly well all the arguments against giving money to beggars. But he finds those to be precisely the arguments for giving money to them. If beggars are lazy or deceptive or wanting a drink, he knows only too well his own lack of motivation, his own dishonesty, his own thirst. He doesn't believe in 'scientific charity' because that is too easy, as easy as writing a check. He believes in 'promiscuous charity' because that is really difficult. 'It means the most dark and terrible of all human actions-talking to a man. In fact, I know of nothing more difficult than really talking to the poor men we meet.' (pp. 13-14)