Douglas Groothuis, Metro State, 2013
Terms 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:
A. If X, then Y.
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 Deconstructionists.
3. Propositional attitude: One’s intellectual orientation toward truth claims. About claim P (any proposition) one may:
A. Believe P to be true
B. Not know if P is true
C. Believe that P not true.
D. Hope P is true.
E. And more.
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.
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