Various Schools of Thought
1. R. Descartes' utilities of doubt
1.1) Three Utilities
1) Doubt frees us from prejudice: This enables us to suspend judgement to examine matters objectively.
2) Doubt provides for an exercise of pure reason: This enables us to become free of the distractions of sensation to grasp the truth of the matter.
3) Doubt provides a way to certainty: This enables us to come to an absolute conclusion simply by dismissing all other schools of thought.
1.2) Explanation of each utility
1) The purpose of the first utility is to use have a dubious approach in passing judgement, so there is no bias apparent in the final conclusion. Our prejudice is erased with doubt, because the person will doubt everything and allow every possibility an equal chance. Therefore we can have a much more objective approach to the situation.
If a sexist boss is interviewing a man and a woman for the same job, he might have a previous opinion that women cannot do as good of a job as a man. However, if that boss suspends judgement through doubt, he can make a clear choice, which is correct.
2) Descartes felt that to pass judgment, the reason had to be pure. This involves eliminating all the immediate sensations as they could hinder the thought process. To grasp the real truth, one must not be easily convinced by their initial feelings, which derive from first impressions.
An example of this utility in action is the sun and the earth. At first, merely by sensation, someone could assume that the Sun rotates around the earth because they themselves do not feel the earth moving at all. However, if they disregarded this sensation, they would learn that it is in fact the opposite, with the earth revolving around the sun.
3) The purpose of the last utility is simply to reach an absolute certainty when making a judgment. We can test a null hypothesis to prove a regular hypothesis. Doubt can be used to dismiss all the incorrect thoughts. Simply by proving everything wrong with doubt, a certainty can be reached on the last remaining idea.
If answering a philosophical question about dogs being things or beings, one would use doubt to dismiss all the possible ideas as impossible or improbable, and reach an absolute certainty just by proving everything else incorrect.
2. R. Descartes" First Meditation- an exercise of universal methodological doubt.
Descartes was a strong believer in not believing anything, which is not certain, and to doubt everything that is not proven. However, his previous life opinions always came back to him, and he had to form some skeptical hypothesis to doubt them. To show that he was able to doubt anything Descartes created a supposition against the physical world. He wondered if there was an evil genius present that created his whole physical world around him, and it was nothing more than a trick. Descartes questioned all the physical beings and things around him (people, clouds, etc.) as if they were all an illusion by some antagonist. He wondered if he falsely believed that life and reason actually existed. "I will regard myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, no senses, but as nevertheless falsely believing that I possess all these things.”
2.2) Use of Supposition
The use of this supposition universalizes doubt because this doubt is the most extreme, the most skeptical. Simply doubting ones whole existence calls reason into question and aims doubt at that as well. If Descartes could have doubted this, and not reverted back to his old standard opinions, this hypothesis would set a standard for all doubt in philosophy.
2.3) A first certainty
1) Descartes find that the only thing impossible to doubt is that nothing is certain. He has an anti-reality approach in certifying the statement, because the indubitable fact is based on Descartes's suppositions questioning our reality.
2) To test that this finding is impossible to doubt, Descartes uses his theory of nothing really existing as a nun hypothesis. According to his train of thought, everything in this world can be doubted, or perceived as non-existent. Therefore, the only thing that can really be proven is that absolutely nothing in life is certain.
3. B. Russell and P. Unger and the relationship between appearance and reality.
3.1) On appearance and reality
A large problem in philosophy lies in the debate over appearance and reality and just how separate the two are. Philosophers are unsure whether to judge or define something based on appearance or reality. We see appearance as having a direct correlation to reality m that we often see the appearance of something and automatically label the reality based on the observation. Bertrand Russell begs to differ though, as he uses the example of a desk: "Experience has taught us to construct the 'real' shape from the apparent shape, and the 'real' shape is what we see... the senses sem not to give us the trut about the table itself, but only about the appearance... (p.259-260) In this example of the desk, Russell points out that the appearance of something is so different to so many different people. There are multiple factors that can influence how someone views the color, texture or any other aesthetic qualities. According to Unger and his skepticism over certainty, appearance would really mean little, because it determines nothing. We all look at an object differently, no two people can have the same point of view. The debate then lies in how to define reality if the variable of appearance discredited. The question, if philosphers cannot experience reality from appearance, is how to find reality and is there a reality7
4.0 Kant on the good will
4. 1) Describing the good will
1) A good will is good not because of what it performs, or for any means of attainment, but by virtue of volition.
2) A good will is esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favor of inclination.
3) At the end of whichever deed, the good will should still be shining, as a whole value in itself.
4) The usefulness or fruitfulness cannot add nor subtract from this value.
5) The value of the good will cannot be determined
4.2) Determining the good will
1) The good will is an action that has intrinsic unconditional value. The good will is a deed simply defined by willing the right thing to the receiver(s) of the action. One of the determining factors is the virtue in the deed, which should be present after the situation is over, with no other rewards.
2) There are many situations which shouldn't be factors in determine the good MU according to Kant. Conditional values such as talents (strength, intelligence), wealth, character, or emotion should not be definite signs of good will. The reason for this is that any of these traits of a person can be used just as much for good will as they can for bad will. Another factor that is not a way to determine good will is the consequences of the actions. Whatever the physical or emotional outcome is of the situation has no influence over making the deed one of good will.
5. 1. Kant on two kinds of imperative
5.1) Hypothetical Imperative
The hypothetical imperative is a conditional command, which means that a thing is treated as a means and its existence is not fulfilled through itself. The value of this thing is relative to something else.
5.2) When someone keeps their car in great condition, that situation exhibits the hypothetical imperative simply because the actions are not done for the car, but for the sake of something beyond.
The categorical imperative is an unconditional command, meaning a person performs certain duties for their own sake, not as a means to something else.
5.4) When a person takes a shower, this action is done for the
sake of that person and has no outer reaching purpose to something else. The deed is simply done for that person and that person only.
5.5) Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same
time will that it should become a universal law.
6.0 Kant on rational nature
6.1) Foundation of categorical imperative-1
Rational nature exists as an end in itself.
6.2) Foundation of categorical imperative-2
The basic principle of human action and behavior is one of a subjective nature. Kant explains that a rational being is able to act on something as an end in itself because it acknowledges its existence. The practical imperative supports this foundation because the imperative has guidelines of performing action for yourself not as means to something else.
7.0 J.S. Mill on utilitarianism
7. 1) Theory of morality
"Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things (which are as numerous in the utilitarian as in any other scheme) are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as a means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain." (p.652)
Mill's theory on morality differs from the other philosophers' views on morals. Something is considered moral in Mills world if happiness is an outcome. According to Mill, happiness erases the pain, and if people are happy, then everything is right with the world. A completely moral deed would involve the mere substitution of pain with pleasure.
7.3) Theory of life
"If it may be possibly doubted whether a noble character is always the happier for its nobleness, there can be no doubt that it makes other people happier, and that the world in general is immensely a gainer by it."(p.655)
7.4) Explanation-2 Mill has a theory of life (Greatest happiness principle)
which has a basic rule of seeking the maximum amount of pleasure. Humans perform actions as an end to primarily themselves according to Mills, and they should indeed think and act that way. Mills feels that people should pursue the greatest amount of happiness: happiness for themselves and others. This relates to the utilitarianism morality theory because if people kept this theory of life, then morality would be very high. There is a very direct relationship, almost cause and effect between the two variables. People will be completely moral, if their theory of life is a search for happiness in all amounts.