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Human Nature - Critical Thinking

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Office hours – 7:00 – 7:30 am Tuesdays and Thursdays in ACD 304

Interview is due 9/15.

Human Nature

  • Thomas Hobbes – “Leviathan” – proposed government system based on human nature
  • Plato – if you want well-run society, you need to have a realistic expectation of human nature. Hobbes had a unique twist on what Plato said.

Critical Thinking – Introduction to the Textbook

  • Models of critical thinkers
  • Socrates (469-399 BCE) – didn’t actually write anything – all we have of him comes from other sources like Plato
  • Asserted that a life without rational reflection and thought wouldn’t even be worth living for a human being. He allowed himself to be executed by Athens rather than be forced to stop philosophical activity.
  • Plato added some of his own thoughts to his recordings of what Socrates said, so it’s hard to determine where Plato begins and where Socrates begins and ends
  • Earlier Dialogues are probably more indicative of what Socrates probably actually said and thought
  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE) – a statement is true if it corresponds with reality. Socrates’ most famous student
  • Defines essential function of humans as the rational activity of the soul. Often thought of as primary force in development of logic and reasoning
  • Validity = if you assume promises to be true, it’s impossible for conclusion to be false.
  • Analyzed the truth of statements as well.
  • Came up with categorical logic as well as a philosophy on truth
  • Aristotle’s logic dominant until the 18th century. His views on how the world worked dominated till about the 16th century.
  • Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
  • Inventor of Cartesan coordinates, Cartesian dualism
  • Early modern philosopher, holds that the fact that I am a thinking thing is the primordial fact that testifies to my existence: I think, therefore I am.
  • “Discourse on Method” Book
  • Mind is spiritual, body is physical and temporal
  • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
  • English philosopher
  • Combines metaphysics, political philosophy, etc. in Leviathan
  • State of nature theory, social contract theory
  • Advocated monarchy, but on a different basis from “divine right”
  • You need someone strong enough to enforce the rules of the Social Contract
  • Born into a dog-eat-dog world, so you should sacrifice some liberty for security. (Self-interest more specifically)

Critical thinking vs. Ordinary thinking

  • Critical thinking
  • Apply principles of logical reasoning to argue effectively for one’s vies
  • Recognize, classify, and evaluate deductive and inductive arguments
  • Objectively and fairly evaluate and criticize arguments of other people
  • Determine if a factual claim or set of claims is true or false
  • Respond to fallacies
  • Recognize assumptions and biases in ourselves and others – Francis Bacon
  • Francis Bacon came up with the “Four Idols” that impede truth
  • See all sides of an issue and seriously consider views that one may disagree with
  • Control one’s emotions, especially with controversial topics
  • Critical thinking is NOT…
  • Putting down or belitting.
  • Negative. (i.e. is positive)
  • Think of critical thinking as a film or food critic who can sharpen their skills and insight to judge between good/bad films and dishes.

Three reasons to become a critical thinker

  • Gives intellectual tools to make better choices as citizens, consumers, and individuals
  • Universal application to daily life and will make you better at whatever it is you choose to spend your time doing
  • Makes you a better student and will have positive effect on your academic success


Self interest vs. Altruism – is everyone motivated by self interest?

  • Psychological egoism – we are always deep dow motivated by what we perceive is in our self-interest. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  • Psychological hedonism – conduct and especially all human behavior is fundamentally motivated by the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain (Merriam-Webster)
  • Psychological altruism – against egoism and hedonism philosophies – sometimes, we can have PURELY and ultimately altruistic motives (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Next time – go over Chapter 1

  • Exercises mainly geared on putting arguments in standard form

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