Phil 100 paper 1

Phil 100 paper 1 - John Tran PHIL 100 Paper 1 Ana Belan W K...

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John Tran PHIL 100 Paper 1 Ana Belan W. K. Clifford, in his essay “The Ethics of Belief”, argued that “it is wrong always. .. to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” By believing a proposition without reasonable support, he argued that the truths that a person believes are born from his own desires and biases rather than objective investigation. He ends by saying that if a person has no time to properly investigate his belief, then he has no time to believe. In response to Clifford, psychologist William James in “The Will to Believe” responded, “our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions.” The biases one carries are built in to one's capacity to decide. By deciding to disbelieve a proposition until further evidence is itself a preferential, or passional, decision by Clifford. Clifford has preferentially decided to avoid a potential error, rather than believing a potential truth; yet neither of these two options are more reasonable than the other. This essay aims to show that Clifford's position is untenable. One example will utilize Clifford's own anecdote of the shipowner to demonstrate that there is no right or wrong decision for the shipowner and that most of the time, sufficient evidence is unknowable. The second example will utilize Newton's laws of physics and Einstien's theory of relativity (in a user-friendly manner) to demonstrate how Clifford's argument breaks down. The first example concerns the shipowner. Clifford argues that because the shipowner failed to
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2009 for the course PHIL PHIL 100 taught by Professor Jamesclifford during the Spring '08 term at UVA.

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Phil 100 paper 1 - John Tran PHIL 100 Paper 1 Ana Belan W K...

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