Douglas Groothuis, Metro State, 2013
from Introduction to Philosophy
There are several terms or phrases that I have
introduced in class that may not have been covered in your reading. Here are a
few of them.
1. Place-holder: Usually a letter to indicate an abstract
concept. P means “any proposition.” S means “any subject,” understood to be a
person. These are similar to variables in algebra. X and Y may mean anything.
Let us use some place holders in an argument:
C. Therefore: not X (modus tolens).
2. Proposition: what an indicative sentence affirms. The same
proposition, “This is a cat,” can be spoken or written in many languages, and
with the same meaning. Deconstructionists do not believe in propositions because
they reject objective truth. Everything is reduced to relative language for
3. Propositional attitude: One’s intellectual orientation toward
truth claims. About claim P (any proposition) one may:
C. Believe that P not true.
4. Reference range: the extent of a truth claim; what a truth
claims covers or contains. These come in several basic types:
A. Universal affirmative
statement: All X is Y: All humans (X) are mortal (Y)
B. Universal negation
statement: No X is Y: No humans (X) are immortal (Y).
C. Particular affirmative statement:
X is Y: Socrates (X) is mortal (Y).
D. Particular negation
statement: X is not-Y: Socrates (X) is not immortal (Y).
5. The law of identity: A is A. It is that simple. The Student
Success Building (A) is the Student Success Building (A). You (A) are you (A)!
6. Perspectivism: This comes in two types: hard and soft.
A. Hard perspectivism is the idea that all knowledge is limited to a
perspective and that no perspective is closer to the truth than any other
perspective. That is, it is perspective all the way down. This is a kind of
relativism and is claimed by Deconstructionists.
B. Soft perspectivism is the idea that the same state of affairs (or
circumstance) can be understood from various complementary perspectives. For
example, Christians claim that the four Gospels about Jesus’ life (Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John) give somewhat different perspectives on the life (although
they all make many common claims) and teachings of Jesus, but these
perspectives do not contradict each other. They are, rather, complementary and
contribute to a larger harmonious whole. Or: my experience of John as angry and
your experience of John as patient are not contradictory if we are referring to
John at different times. The larger perspective is that John is sometimes angry
and sometimes patient.
7. Disjunctive proposition: a statement involving a choice between
possibilities. “It is in either chapter three or chapter four.” This is true if
it is in one of the two chapters stipulated. It false if it is in neither
chapter or in both chapters.