Good Example Of The Nature Of Philosophy Essay
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Philosophy, Life, People, Society, Gadfly, Socrates, Methodology, Development
In Apology, Socrates refers to himself as a gadfly. Explain how this metaphor is considered to be characteristic of the discipline of philosophy.
Philosophy is a complex field of theoretical inquiry different from yet connected to a variety of fields. It has various characteristics and relates to other intellectual and academic pursuits. An understanding of the nature of philosophy can occur through the focus on Apology by Socrates. Socrates refers to himself as the gadfly; the metaphor describes philosophy’s characteristics in relation to other fields.
A gadfly is an individual who poses novel and upsetting questions that interfere with the status quo in the society. In his context, Socrates used gadfly to refer to individuals advocating change. Though such individuals could be easily silenced, the consequences of such actions would be detrimental to the society. Gadfly symbolizes individuals who went to great lengths to uphold the truth despite societal constraints. The properties of the gadfly are evident in the nature and characterization of philosophy as a field (Ober, 1).
First and foremost, philosophy differs from other disciplines just like the gadfly differed from other members of the society. Though at some point philosophy incorporated all fields of theoretical inquiry, it now differs from them in regard to empirical methodology. Unlike philosophy, the inquiry process in other fields has reduced them to a few dominant theories. The fields seek answers to questions based on the empirical methodology and decision procedures. Philosophy, unlike other disciplines, does not solely acquire answers from empirical data. Instead, the questions are debated through the dialectical process; this involves the advancement of arguments on both sides of an issue. Most philosophers, unlike experts in other fields, seek answers through argument and counterargument processes. The debates boil down to a few main theories that develop an empirical methodology.
A gadfly is a person who seeks and defends the truth no matter what; he/she does not fear going against societal norms or expectations. Philosophy too seeks the truth, not for itself, but for the benefit of the society. It is viewed in many traditions as the search for truths available to the human intellect; the process is independent of the making of observations. Thus, just like the gadfly, philosophy does not attempt to develop its truths. Instead, it utilizes specific techniques in the critical analysis of information viewed as truths according to science.
Subsequently, Socrates viewed himself as a gadfly and the society a horse. He sought to advocate the people’s right to have free-will even at the cost of his life (Ober, 1). Through the idea of an informed citizenry, he hoped to convince the people to stand against the injustices and corruption that occurred in Athens. The role of philosophy in the society is no different. It helps people in finding answers to complex philosophical questions regarding life; this influences the views, opinions and choices of people in the society. The fact that many philosophical issues remain unsettled gives individuals a chance to develop and authenticate their opinions concerning various issues in the society. The development of free-will and a comprehensive world-view are also encouraged by philosophy. It encourages working hard and making contributions, however small, towards the acquisition of solutions.
Socrates viewed his role in the Athenian society as one of great significance (Ober, 1). He thought he needed to rid the society of its complacent nature especially when faced with controversy, trouble or danger. He believed he needed to improve the society by making the people aware of the dire situation that existed. Just like the gadfly, philosophy study leads to a better understanding of life issues such as morality, the existence of God and perception.
Philosophy and its relationship with other academic and intellectual pursuits.
Philosophy’s relationship with other academic and intellectual disciplines is evident in the sharing of scientific methodology. Though the philosophy has little focus on empirical approaches, in finding answers, most of its attempts boil down to empirical approaches. It thus loses some of its inquiry areas to science; the process makes a significant contribution to the development of other intellectual and academic pursuits. It is noteworthy that unlike the other fields such as chemistry and physics that solely depend on scientific methodology, the proper methodology of philosophy remains unidentified. The relationship with other disciplines is also evident in philosophy’s help in gaining a perspective on the various arts and sciences; this is because they struggle in dealing with the same issues. Philosophy equips one with the thinking skills to apply in other fields.
Explain Socrates’ argument for his assertion that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Do you agree with Socrates’ conclusion? Explain why or why not.
The argument shows that only attempts to know and understand ourselves gives life the true meaning and value it has. Understanding one’s life helps in making decisions and acting in a proper manner. People are thus able to act with reason and distinguish between bad and good actions. Thus, without the wisdom and knowledge acquired by examining the lives we live, human beings are better off dead.
I agree with Socrates because the statement reflects the foundation of the principled arguments he defended throughout his life. It probes individuals to question themselves and the lives they lead. The statement enforces the value of human life and what distinguishes people from other animals; the ability to reason and make choices. Thus, an understanding of life, ourselves, others and the world around us helps in the pursuit of self-knowledge and wisdom.
Explain the difference between an invalid deductive argument and a strong inductive argument. Why is it correct to consider one to be a “good” argument and the other one a “bad” argument? (10 marks)
An understanding of the difference between an invalid and strong deductive argument first focuses on the meaning of deduction. Deductive arguments have premises that are claimed to give the necessary support to the conclusion. Thus, if the premise is assumed true, then the conclusion is likely true too. A strong or valid deductive argument involves the premise supporting the conclusion in a way that is viewed true; it is impossible to have a false conclusion.
An invalid deductive argument, on the other hand, is such that though the premise is assumed true, there is a possibility of the conclusion being false. The distinguishing feature thus depends on the relationship between the conclusion and the premises regardless of the argument’s content. A valid deductive argument is considered good or sound; this is because it has true premises. An invalid deductive argument is bad because an argument must be valid in order to be sound; only valid deductive arguments are sound.
The following argument is deductively invalid. Indicate the form or structure, of the argument, and provide your counterexample (i.e., an example with all true premises and a false conclusion) that clearly shows the invalidity. (10 marks)
All cynical people are disgruntled. Some meticulous people are cynical. Therefore, some disgruntled people are not meticulous.
An invalid deductive argument contains premises assumed true, but the conclusion can be false. If sentence one and two are assumed true, statement three, that is the conclusion is not necessarily true. It is because not all meticulous people are cynical; this means there is a section of meticulous people that cannot automatically be assumed to be disgruntled.
For example, Martin Slate is a Banker. Bankers are wealthy. Therefore, Martin Slate is wealthy.
Argument Construction (10 marks)
The following statement represents the conclusion of an argument. The statement is expressed in the form of two alternatives. Select one of the alternatives and think of as many reasons as you can in support of that alternative. With the alternative, you have selected and the reasons you thought of, construct an argument with the alternative you selected as the conclusion and your reasons as premises. Make your argument as clear and convincing as possible for a person who doesn’t accept the alternative you chose as a conclusion. (.i.e. when grading this question that is the position I’ll be adopting). The possession, ownership, and sale of handguns should/should not be outlawed.
The possession, sale, and ownership of handguns should be illegal due to a variety of reasons. First, it escalates the rate of insecurity; this occurs through an increase in gun violence as many violate the terms of gun use according to White House (2). They are used to commit horrific and violent acts. Though many gun owners are law-abiding and responsible citizens who use their guns safely, the risks must be considered.
Over 31,000 people in USA die from gunshot wounds; most are youths. In 2010, there were over 337960 gunshot victims with non-fatal wounds (Webster et al. 22). The statistics depict the dire situation that needs to be addressed. Apart from the physical and traumatic effects, violence from gun ownership incurs high economic costs due to the loss of productivity and medical expenses. In addition, there is the decline in property values in areas with high violence rates. Eliminating the possession, ownership and sale of handguns will ensure security, economic progress, and quality living.
Ober, Josiah. “Gadfly on trial: Socrates as citizen and social critic.” In Adriaan Lanni, ed. Athenian Law in Its Democratic Context. Center for Hellenic Studies On-line Discussion Series (2003): Web. Available from: < http://www.stoa.org/projects/demos/article_socrates?page=all > [Accessed January 21, 2015]
Webster, Daniel W., Vernick, Jon S., Vittes, Katherine, McGinty, Emma E., Teret, Stephen P., and Frattaroli, Shannon. The Case for Gun Policy Reform in America. Baltimore: John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (2012): Web. Available from: < http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun- policy-and-research/publications/WhitePaper020514_CaseforGunPolicyReforms.pdf > [Accessed January 21, 2015]
White House. Now is The Time: The president’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence. Washington: The White House (2013): Web. Available from: < http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf > [Accessed January 21, 2015]