Confirmation Bias: Philosophy

1) McIntosh opens this chapter on conditionals by distinguishing between three kinds of conditionals: the indicative conditional, the counter factual conditional, and the subjunctive conditional. Why does McIntosh say that we will focus solely on the indicative conditional? Read up on counterfactual conditionals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfactual_conditional), and construct a valid argument using a counterfactual conditional.
2) In philosophical writing, you will often see the Latin phrase certeris paribus, which means “all other things being equal”. McIntosh uses this phrase when claiming that in an indicative conditional, the consequent follows from the antecedent, ceteris paribus. Look up ceteris paribus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus) to understand its meaning and use. Then construct a ceteris paribus argument, and give some defeaters which would violate the ceteris paribus clause.
3) I was in seventh grade, returning from gym class, when the space shuttle challenger exploded during liftoff. The Challenger explosion is one of those events which is burned into the minds of people of my generation, similar to the way younger people remember where they were and what they were doing when the World Trade Center was attacked.The space shuttle exploded due to a leaky o-ring which caused a premature mix of its hydrogen and oxygen fuel. McIntosh presents the following argument:

——–
P1) If oxygen and hydrogen are mixed in proper proportions and a spark is present, there will be an explosion.

P2) There was an explosion in the space shuttle Challenger.

:. Ergo, oxygen and hydrogen were mixed in proper proportions, and some spark ignited it, causing the space shuttle to explode.
This ^^ argument has all true premises and a true conclusion. Why is it invalid? After noting why this is an invalid deductive argument, look up abductive reasoning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abductive_reasoning). Is this a good abductive argument?
4) What is confirmation bias? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) How does it relate to McIntosh’s example from the text? Give a common example of where people fall prey to confirmation bias. Also say how one might avoid this common logical error.

5) McIntosh presents the following argument for the existence of God:

“If God exists and requires us to believe in Him in order to avoid punishment, then He would give us evidence that He exists. All people have a natural belief in God. That is evidence that God exists. Therefore, God exists.”

Say why this argument of invalid. Then present your own argument (it should be a sound or cogent argument), either for the existence of God or against the existence of God.

6) McIntosh presents the following argument for the existence of Global warming:

“If the global warming theory is correct then we will experience unseasonably hot summers, milder winters, and much more frequent and severe droughts across the United States. All of these things have happened. Hence, the global warming theory is correct.”

Explain why this is an invalid deductive argument. How might this argument fare as an abductive argument? Present your own argument (it should be sound or cogent) either for or against the existence of human caused global warming.

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Discussion 5.

 

McIntosh’s argument: “If God exists and requires us to believe in Him in order to avoid punishment, then He would give us evidence that He exists. All people have a natural belief in God. That is evidence that God exists. Therefore, God exists.”

 

This argument presented by McIntosh is invalid because one of its premises and the following inference are able to be disputed with just common logic. The first problem with this argument is his claim that, “All people have a natural belief in God.” This statement can’t be proven to be logically possible since we cannot know how everyone truly thinks about God. So to say that everyone has a natural belief in God is a wild assumption that disregards the beliefs of not only atheists, but also those who believe in multiple / different forms of a higher power. For example, the Nordic cultures of 1000 years ago believed in the tales of Valhalla and the adventures of the Aesir, who weren’t technically gods, but were among a higher power than humans. They innately did not believe in any sort of singular God, therefore there’s no way that McIntosh’s statement that ‘all people naturally believe in God’ could be valid.

 

The assumption following this is also false, since it infers that this “natural belief” can be considered as evidence to the establishment of God. Beliefs, in general, are nearly never logically sound enough to be considered as true evidence of something. Just because you may believe that Joseph Stalin is in cryofreeze on the Moon doesn’t mean that this belief can be considered as evidence for the fact. Beliefs and evidence are two completely separate topics, where a belief is substantiated (hopefully) by evidence. My belief that God isn’t real is substantiated by the evidence that I have personally never seen or felt anything resembling God, and that the claims others have made about God are based upon false evidence.

Therefore, my counter argument to McIntosh’s argument is as follows:

“If the Catholic God exists, then there would be no physical evidence for the process of evolution. There is physical evidence supporting the process of evolution, therefor the catholic version of God doesn’t exist.”

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