Evidence in Ethics

Ethic is a set of moral principle, which affects how people make decisions and lead their lives. It is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy. Evidence is what tends to prove of disprove something

 

So how do we know whether it is ethical or not? I thought about the ways of knowing to identify and evaluate evidence for ethics, which are logic, emotion, and perception.

 

  1. Logic

In the perspective of logic, ethics can be considered as an inherent rule between members of society so that everyone survives within the community. It is embedded in our mind that tells us what to do and what not to do. Ethics is simply what enables us to sustain our society to survive as a whole. For instance, we inherently recognize that it is wrong to murder others. This is because if murdering is allowed, I might also be affected. We know that this society has ‘laws’ that keeps us from behaving unethically. Likewise, ethics protects us from inflictions returning back to us. We can say that anything that cause harm to the society can be considered unethical. Logic can be applied in ethics to analyze whether certain behavior can cause harm to the society, therefore determining whether it is ethical or not.

 

  1. Emotion

From the perspective of emotion, the standard to determine ethics is sense of guilt. When people do something and they feel uncomfortable doing it in a way of harming others, emotion itself can be evidence for ethics. Even though what you did is really minor, and no one will notice, you will feel bad of yourself and feel sense of guilt. Emotion is the biggest part of ethics, because the person who did unethical behavior knows by heart that they did something wrong because their conscience tells them so.

 

  1. Perception

Perception can also be evidence for ethics because as a human being, we learn things from experiences. Since when we were born, adults, especially our parents told us what not to do when we do something wrong. As we hear the same warning every time, we fix the information in our minds so that we don’t do it again. It becomes a common sense afterwards. Like this, ethics can also be seen as knowledge that has been imprinted on our minds.

 

Most common errors regarding evidence that lead to false conclusions:

During the 19th century, many powerful countries tried to develop, conquer, and rule the colony. However, from the weak country’s perspective, it’s not right to conquer other nationalities because it’s not right to assault others for their own benefit. At that time, Charles Darwin claimed evolution theory, which tells us that the species that couldn’t adapt or survive in nature gets thrown out by nature. In other words, leading to extinction. Powerful countries applied this logic and made it reasonable that weak nationalities fall behind and gets ruled by powerful countries. If we apply this logic, it doesn’t go against ethics. Like this, depending on which logic you apply, we can reach wrong ethical conclusion. To conclude, wrong evidence derives from wrong logic.

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Evidence in Arts

 

While reading this post, please refer to the artwork “The gleaners”. I was not able to add the picture with my post.

In science, evidence is the data collected that supports the hypothesis or theory. In mathematics, evidence is the calculation and logics that supports the equation or some mathematical concept. Then, what is evidence in art? Well, unlike other areas of knowledge, we do not try to prove something in art. So what is evidence in art?

First, we can approach an artwork through technical merit. This includes, different techniques, styles used by an artist. For instance, there is an artwork “The Gleaners” drawn by Millet. It depicts three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest. One can appreciate this artwork for its elaborate art techniques:

- The contrast between the bright sky and the dark soil: The brightness of sky also emphasizes the toil of gleaners.

-Artist’s intention of concealing women’s faces with shadow: The shadow drawn over their face symbolizes or appears as if gleaners suffer from distress or anguish.

-Artist’s accurate depiction of gleaners: Apparently, anyone can notice figures drawn in the picture are women and what those women are doing. It is not like a elementary school children’s disordered artwork, where figures drawn in the picture are nothing like a human.

Hence, encompassing these evaluations together, interpreter can determine value of this artwork. Well as far as I am concerned, this artwork seems wonderful to me. Likewise, each evaluation worked as evidence that supports the judgment on values of artwork.

 

However, artwork is not only about artistic techniques. Also, artwork is not only for the sake of judging its value. Great artworks raise profound questions to us. Such questions include: “Who am I?” “Where am I?” “What am I doing, and what should I be doing?”. Take this picture as an example again. When a tenant farmer from medieval era interprets this picture, he might answer these questions in this way:

-       “Who am I”: I work out in the field under the scorching sun for whole day. But what is left to us is nothing, all the crops are taken away to our lord. This picture reminds me of a time when I was crouching in the field picking up kernels of wheat in an attempt to relieve hunger a bit. My family was tenant farmers from far ancestors for generations. All along the history there were always ruling class and subjugated class. But what makes the difference between these two groups?

-       “Where am I”: I am associated to a medieval, feudal society where I have to pay a tribute to my lord. In this society, I am paying tribute to my lord in favor of safety of myself and other kinds of service I relish thanks to my lord. However, I do not want any protection from my lord. The heavy tribute I have to pay to my lord is what actually makes my life harder to sustain. There has not been any threat or harm for years. Well, few years ago, there were some plunderers infiltrated into our town. However, my family didn’t receive any protection and lost every thing we had. This feudal system is contradictory.

-       “What am I doing, and what should I be doing”: So the feudal system is wrong and contradictory. Then, what should I do to correct this system? What should I do to achieve fair treatment or justice? How can I get out of such destitute? How can I sustain my family’s lives without depending on few drops of kernels in the field? This system should be abolished and we should construct a new system just like French revolution did.

Likewise, the artwork raised some in depth questions. Based on range of experience, each interpreter comes up with different answers just like we all have different tastes. In other words, artwork is the source of knowledge. It is like ingredients for us to cook our own “knowledge”. Although we might use the same ingredient, the final dishes we cook are all different. It is like one can cook potato salad, another cooking potato soup, and the other cooking mashed potato, and despite they are all using the same potato. So what makes up these dishes? Ingredient is one, and style of the cook is another. Then back to the artwork. What is evidence in an artwork? It is artwork itself and the experience of the interpreter.

To clarify, I want to add that artwork itself is the evidence in art. This is because it works as a catalyst of knowledge. It strikes our attention and arouses us to see things that we were unaware of previously. Then our consciousness, or thinking lead us to knowledge. However, it should be noted that artwork does not give us direct knowledge but indirectly provoke us to realization. So? What made that tenant farmer decide to rebel against his lord? It is his experience of unjustified, unfair living under his lord and the artwork ‘The Gleaners’ that aroused his awareness.

In conclusion, experience of interpreter and the artwork itself is the evidence in art.

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Evidence in Logic

What is Logic? : The study of the methods and principles used to distinguish good or correct (valid) reasoning from bad or incorrect (invalid) reasoning.

A Valid Argument is one that follows the laws of logic; it is properly reasoned.

What is reasoning? : Consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

Reasoning can be separated into two types 1. Inductive reasoning – drawing general conclusions based upon specific examples 2. Deductive reasoning – drawing specific conclusions from general laws

a) How does each of your AOKs define evidence?
: In logic, evidence is something can make a certain argument or statement valid.
For example, ‘Mr. Westlund is a man, therefore Mr. Westlund is mortal.’ This sentence does not make sense, because it’s not properly reasoned. However, if there exists an evidence to support the sentence, it can make sense. If there’s an evidence – ‘all men are mortal’ – then the sentence above now makes sense.

b) How does each of your AOKs evaluate evidence and decide whether a particular piece of information constitutes reliable evidence?
: In logic, a good evidence is one that can make an argument valid, while a bad evidence is one that cannot make an argument valid enough, or one that make an argument invalid. For example, there are three arguments.

1. If roses are red, then violets are blue
2. Roses are red
3. Therefore, violets are blue.

They are valid arguments (good evidences), since they make sense. For reference, this type of arguments are called as Modus Ponens.

1. If P then Q.
2. P
3. Therefore, Q.

Here’s another example.

1. If Sue is a bachelor, then Sue is not married.

2. Sue is not a bachelor.

3. Therefore, Sue is married.

They are invalid arguments (bad evidence), since they do not make sense. The third argument is denying the antecedent.

c) In each case, what WOKs do we use to identify and evaluate evidence?
: We use reasoning as a way of knowing to identify and evaluate evidence in logic as explained above.

d) In each AOK, what are the most common errors regarding evidence that lead to false conclusions?
: There are two common errors regarding evidence that lead to false conclusions.

1. In Inductive reasoning : Inductive reasoning can never be absolutely certain.
For example, ‘Every day of my life I have lived, the sun has risen. Therefore, the sun will rise tomorrow.’ Although the possibility of sudden change like sun doesn’t rise is relatively is low, but we cannot just simply ignore the possibility, since there are a lot of variables we do not know.

2. In Deductive reasoning : If the premises are wrong, the reasoning will produce an error.

*Premise: statement in an argument intended to establish a conclusion.

For example, ‘All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Socrates is therefore mortal.’ The arguments seem like they are making sense, but if the premise is wrong – if all men are not mortal -, then the conclusion – Socrates is therefore mortal – is also wrong.

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Evidence: History

1. How does each of your History define evidence?

Source-> Most critical in learning history
Historians use evidences to formulate a balanced judgment on issues concerned on them. They usually call evidences “sources”. Evidence for historians is rather to gain information before they make actual theory. Evidence is “discovered” rather than “made” Historians distinguish evidences into two parts.
Primary evidence: evidence that actually comes from the time being studied in the question.

Titanic-> Remains of the ships/ Articles when it was drowned/ Witnesses of the passenger

Secondary evidence: Evidence that does not come from the time being studied in the question

Titanic-> Film of James Cameron

Secondary evidence is derived from a various primary resources. So historians can stick with the historical fact even more.

b) How does history evaluate evidence and decide whether a particular piece of information constitute reliable evidence?

Through analysing evidences, historians try to discover why events happened, what circumstances contributed to their cause, what subsequent effects they had, and how they were interpreted.

Historians identify the author, time period, whether it is primary or secondary evidence, examine the conditions of the evidence, and compare with other evidences they have which may be in contrast or may tell similar information. Then they interpret those evidences’ “messages”
-> what they witnesses for. It can be whether prescriptive, or descriptive. It can be explicit or implicit. They also find out purpose and intended audiences of the source

c) WOK
Language

Frames the historical thought and gives it status and strength (Bias, reliability, Intent, preconception, schools of thought) Wrong use of language makes historical fact sounds unclear

Sense perception

Selection of knowledge

Emotion-> Often gives the imaginative interpretation of historical knowledge. It gives meaning to the historical context. History makes reality
Celebration/condemnation/regret/group identity

Reason: constructs historical knowledge into certain frame
Filters out illogical facts and provides the validity upon historian’s selections of facts

d) Errors
Bias-> selection/ types of evidence/ omission of evidence/ Intention of historian

The most important rule of analysis is bias rule. If the evidence is too biased, it has a great possibility to distort the truth, not worth as evidences anymore.
Analysis and evaluation of historical evidence varies. As same historical knowledge is interpreted into various way, controversy exists. Through debate, historians try to form a consent about historical knowledge by examining it with objectivity, and critique. -> Multiple perspectives

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What’s your Evidence?: In Biology and Physics

(a) How does each of your areas of knowledge define evidence?
The information indicating whether a proposition is true.

-Evidence in Biology: carrying out an investigation of the effect of temperature on enzymes: then evidence would be anything that supports your hypothesis
-Evidence in Physics: investigating the effect of your weight on your speed while cycling: then evidence would be anything that supports your hypothesis

(b) How do the N.S. evaluate evidence and decide whether a particular piece of information constitutes reliable evidence?
Normally in biology and physics, information that constitutes reliable evidence is the one that can obtained when the same experiment is repeated and it still supports the proposition. This means that the same results will be obtained no matter who conducts the experiment. Quantitative evidence is preferred over qualitative evidence because it is less subject to bias which would make it more objective.

For example: A numerical value for a rise in temperature is preferred over a description of the change in temperature as from warm to hot.

(c) In each case, what WOKs do we use to identify and evaluate evidence?
TO IDENTIFY: Sense perception: which our senses we are able to detect changes in our environment which will help us integrate this newly acquired knowledge into the scientific method.

TO EVALUATE: Reason: the process that is used to decide whether evidence is reliable and can be used to support a proposition.

Emotion and Language play a smaller role in identifying and evaluating evidence however they should not be dismissed. Emotions lead to the quest for evidence and curiosity to search for evidence arises from emotions. Language allows us to discuss our findings with others to evaluate the quality and reliability of our evidence.

(d) In the N.S, what are the most common errors regarding evidence that lead to false conclusions?
Often in biology or physics, evidence is used to support ideas instead of ruling them out. Scientific ideas should be tested through falsification never through a search for supporting evidence.

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Evidence in Theatre

Theatre Evidence:

Approaches to Evidence:
Audience Perspective:
1. The Overt Reaction
2. Personal Opinion
Actors Perspective:
1. Actor’s Experience

The Overt Reaction:

Focus on Theater in Performance
• Physical responses from Audience = can give insight on the quality of a production (acting/tech/directing/etc)
• This is why when we go see a movie we like to see reviews.
• We rely on the opinions of critics and the everyday viewer to gives us a type of subjective evidence on why we should/should not go see the movie.
• One can also look at the Play/Movies sales to give you data.
• Many people bought the movie/tickets therefore it must be good. (argumentum ad populum)
• Audience is applauding/standing ovation/etc = evidence that the audience liked the play
• Audience is booing/lack of enthusiasm/etc
= evidence that audience disliked the play
WOK:
Reason: you use your common sense and judgment to come to a conclusion and evidence
Language: Whether through verbal or body language we can show our appreciation or dislike

Personal Opinion:

As a person you may be very touched by a play or a movie
(Marley and Me = crying)
You are able to relate to the characters or plot and it brings an emotional response within you.
That is evidence that the movie in your eyes was touching.
How the audiences’ dispositional and situational attributes affect the way they perceive the play.
(Your personality is to be warm-hearty and easily emotional therefore a sad play/movie has a strong affect on you)
(You just had a fight with the person next to you so you may be paying more attention to them or be more easily angered during the movie therefore making you less vulnerable to a sad plot)
You had a biological, cognitive or/and socio-cultural response to the movie which will allow you to make a judgment about the movie and that in turn is your evidence for why you feel that way about the movie)
I loved the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf because it made me laugh the whole time…
WOK: Emotion: you rely on your inner feelings
Perception: Affected by the way you perceive the things within a play or movie

Actors Experience:

Uta Hagen (born 1919) – created a book called Respect for Acting where she explains a variety of Theatrical theories such as the substitution technique.
The word theory implies a scientific or mathematic way of seeing things and it definitely is closely adjoined with the word evidence. Every theory has evidence right?
Right, but drama theories do not follow a conventional path.
Uta Hagen’s Substitution theory, states that you should find different objects/thoughts/people to substitute with the objects/thoughts/people in the play, therefore making it more real for you and this will allow you to be more persuasive.
What is her evidence?
Her evidence is her experience.
Uta Hagen was an actress or/and acting teacher for 64 years (from 1937-2001).
Over the years Hagen has acquired “good judgement”, a “breadth of vision” and “self-knowledge or understanding”, within her field.
She has played in more than 18 different long-term stage productions and has starred on televisions and film.
With every play she is faced with different difficulties and different challenges.
Through working as an actress for so long she shaped her Substitution theory and then applied it whenever necessary to help her shape the character she was to play.
Then in her later years as a teacher she went on to use that same technique on her students, who in turn found it a useful tool.
Although many actors may find that the substitution theory doesn’t work for them, many actors find that it is a fantastic way of creating a realistic reaction.
There is your evidence that the Theory ‘works’
It is not hard scientific data but a much more complex form.
The more she grew as an actress, the wiser she became and this allowed her to understand her art and create techniques to facilitate the process.
Through a lot of self-reflection and analysis of things that work and don’t work, she was able to come up with this idea.
And when she put it to practical use it gave her the same results again and again
It works like a math formula that you can use again and again but it requires much more than simply sticking numbers into an equation, it requires you to ‘understand’ yourself and ‘understand’ how the world presents itself.
To be able to do this you REQUIRE all 4 WOK!

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Belief

Belief has been defined by dictionary as “An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” or it is a “psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true”. However, this is just the basic definition of belief, and if we think beyond the meanings of this word, we would probably realized that these do NOT make sense.

There is a scale for belief, from -10 to 10, from impossible to certain. People believed that after they die, they will go to hell, but there is no proof saying that hell exists, so why people still think they would go to hell after they die? People believe in things for their own benefits, for instance, back into medieval period, people would believe in church because if they don’t they will get in trouble, although church might be wrong.

There are three kinds of belief, a vague belief, a well-supported belief, a belief that is beyond reasonable doubt. A vague belief could be explained as eating fish helps you concentrate; a well-supported belief could be understood as I believe that my teacher gave me too much homework because it took me five hours to finish it all, but other students only took one hour, so is it because I am too slow or the teacher gave us too much. A belief that is beyond reasonable doubt, for example, on sept.11, 2001, the World Trade Centre collapsed.

Belief has limitations, in the role of judgment, the danger of gullibility, and the danger of skepticism. When people ask you what is the real world, and do you believe in this world, what would your answer be? Gullibility can be dangerous, people believe in Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia, and we use them for our homework, but are they reliable? And for what reason we believe in them? There are many people believe in science and/or theories (I will include mathematics within this), but science can mislead us into believe in it, here is a math equation proofing that 1+1 actually equals to 0 or 1:

a=1, b=1                                               (a-b)(a+b)/(a-b)=0/(a-b)

a=b                                                        a+b=0

a^2=b^2                                               1+1=0

a^2-b^2=0                                            2=0

(a-b)(a+b)=0                                          1=0          1+1=1

In this equation, even though we have ended up with 1+1=1, but there is a mistake in the middle. However if you did not realize the mistake, then you will end up with 1+1=1, and you will start to questioning what you believed as a kid 1+1=2. Science can lead to false belief, and therefore there is the problem of certainty, why should people believe in sciences and theories if we are not certain?

The problem of certainty can be defined as: How can you be certain that the sky is blue? Is it because you see the color of the sky, and even if so, do you believe in your sight then? Do you believe that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? There are videos showed that he did, but should we believe in the videos? Are you certain that snow is cold? You can feel it, but do you then believe in your feelings. We need to find a balance between being open to new ideas that challenge our ways of thinking, while keeping in mind that human beings are sometimes willing to believe strange things on the basis of little evidence.

Human being was once believed in religions, and in science. At the heat of the Christian faith lies a stupefy paradox. An external and uncreated deity, so Christians believe, was born of a human mother, and entered the flow of time. (Ask if anyone is Christian, and do they believe in such statement) Why, though, had this miraculous rupturing of history happened precisely when and where it did? In time, though, historians raised within the Christian tradition would indeed come to deny it. There was a guy called Galileo Galilei, he was the one who played a major role in the scientific revolution. He stood out against the church, by saying that the earth orbits the sun, unlike what the churches believe, everything orbits around the earth. This has brought up the question again: should we believe in science?

There was a survey on Americans and evolution. 40% of adults said they believed that “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.” With the remaining of 15% agreeing with the statement that humans had evolved without the guidance of a divine power. Such poll data raises questions: Why are some scientific ideas hard to believe in? What makes the human mind so resistant to certain kinds of facts, even when these facts are buttressed by cast amounts of evidence?

People are not blank slates, eager to assimilate the latest experiments into their worldview. Rather, we come equipped with all sorts of naive intuitions about the world, many of which are untrue. For instance, people naturally believe that heat is a kind of substance, and that the sun revolves around the earth. And then there’s the irony of evolution: our views about our own development don’t seem to be evolving.

This means that science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs.

Religious belief is one of the largest areas of knowledge. There are theism and Atheism; theism refers to anyone that holds a belief in the supernatural. Atheism, in contrast, is anyone that lacks or does not hold a belief in the supernatural. Within theism, there are numerous belief systems or many religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. Absolutism is the belief that one’s claim is 100% true at all times. Theism that is absolute is referred to as “dogmatic.” Almost no atheist claims absolute non-existence of any supernatural or theistic element. Deism is the belief that deities do not interfere with the affairs of humans or laws of nature. Atheism can further divided into two groups:

-        Implicit Atheists – lack belief, ignorant of the claim

-        Explicit Atheists – refute belief

Explicit Atheism, those who refute theistic claims, includes a portion of individuals who believe theistic claims would be horrible if they were actually true called Anti-theists.

How to we distinct areas of spiritual knowledge? Gnostics believe that one can know of the existence of deities through direct experience. On the other hand, Agnostics believe that particular theistic claims are either unknowable as of now or are inherently unknowable. Therefore, A third group of thought on spiritual knowledge is called “Ignosticism.” Members of this group state that a coherent definition of god must be put forward before the question of the existence of god can be meaningfully discussed. Among agnostics there is a subset that is apathetic to the question of theism. They believe the existence or non-existence of deities cannot be known, but since any god or gods that may exist appear unconcerned for the universe or the welfare of its inhabitants, the question is left to academics. The term for members of this group is called “Apathetic Agnostics.”

Belief can be religious, as well as science, however it depends on what we think it is, and the way we believe in things.

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Truth

So what is truth? It is actually a very hard question because to define it, we will also need to consider several other questions such as: How do we know if something is true? Can truth be proved? How far are we away from the truth, assuming that there is any truth at all?

To get a better understanding of the term, I looked at the three theories of truth.

  • Correspondence theory of truth: states that a proposition is true only if it corresponds to reality.

e.g Proposition: It is raining. Then it is only true if in reality, it is really raining.

  • Coherence theory of truth: states that a proposition is true only if it matches with other things that are considered true.

e.g Proposition: The pencil fell to the ground.       I hear the pencil hit the ground. Another person in the room also hears the pencil hit the ground. I saw the pencil gone from the table. Then according to the coherence theory, the proposition “the pencil fell to the ground” is true because the three observations match.

  • Pragmatic theory of truth: something is true if it is useful.

e.g One person may believe the proposition “the most important thing in life is money”. This is most useful for that person and therefore is true for that person. Another person may disagree with that proposition but that person has his own version of truth in regarding the most important thing in life. It is true because it is useful.

However, I believe that the theories only skim the surface of what truth actually is- it does not explain truth fully.

For instance, the correspondence theory is more like a testing of whether things are true or not. Most of the times, figuring out truth is not as easy as deciding if it is raining (like stated in the proposition) but something much more complicated. This theory does not explain truth but is more like a way of determining if something is true or not. The coherence theory on the other hand most often may not be true. The proposition may match with false statements and we know that statements can often be deceiving. Finally, I completely disagree with the Pragmatic theory because useful does not equal to truth.

 

From my point of view:

Truth is merely a syllable. It itself does not mean anything. It is something abstract created by humans and the lines defining it are very vague. You can’t say truth has an absolute definition because it is open to interpretation of different opinions from different people. So I do believe that truth is different to each person accordingly.

So My three theories of truth are:

  • The way that one person/people sees it as.
  • The way that other person/people see it as.
  • The way that truth really is, again assuming that truth is not just made up.

The reason I say this is because there are no definite truths. Truth cannot be universal because we as humans are limited to our own perception (we cannot grasp what is out of our field of view). I think that there can only be relative truths. For example, we would all agree that 1+1=2 is true. However, it is only true if 1 stands for the unity of one and the + stands for the concept of addition in this numerical system. Anything otherwise would totally corrupt other theories that we have proved by math.

 

Truth in Ancient History

In ancient history, the Greek philosophers – Socrates, Plato’s and Aristotle’s statements of truth are suggested to be to some extent consistent with the correspondence theory of truth. For example, Aristotle stated in his Metaphysics: “To say that what is that it is not, or of what is that not it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true”. This basically means if you state something that does not accord to the truth, the statement is false and if you state that something accords to the truth, it is therefore true.Plato and Socrates also had similar views.

Truth in Religion

In Hinduism, truth is defined as “unchangeable”, “that which has no distortion”, “that which pervades the universe in all its constancy”, “that which is beyond distinctions of time, space and person”. The human body for instance, is not completely true as it changes with time.However, Hindu’s value truth just as much as any culture. From references such as the national motto of India (since Hindu is the initial culture of India):

  • “Satyameva Jayate”- truth alone wins
  • “Satyam muktaye”- truth liberates

We can see that in Hinduism, people put a lot of importance on the idea of truth.

Truth in Modern Age

Here are some ideas from the philosophers of modern age.

Immanuel Kant had the idea along the lines of the correspondence theory.Georg Hegel claimed that truth is an external self-moving object instead of being related to inner subjective thoughts. (Trying to suggest truth has a shape) (?)Alfred North Whitehead’s idea was that nothing is completely true, everything is “half truth”.

Truth and Art

Art can be unrestricted by language. From Rodin’s Thinker to a great ballet performance to Picasso’s paintings, none of these require language. So can these art forms be related to truth?It certainly can be. From Picasso’s painting, Guernica (1937), people from all over the world were alerted about the Spanish Civil War. The painting allowed people to see the truth of the Spanish war.Of course, I’m not saying that this painting is a display of truth- of what really happened, because we know that people we see are not like what we see in the picture.Art may not be true, but we can say that art is a way of finding truth, of convincing viewers of truth and understanding truth.Like Picasso said, “We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given for us to understand”.

Truth and History

Every subject is based on the desire to find the truth. However, history is based on the recording of truth.We have many material and writings passed down from our ancestors that supports this fact.However, over times, we have discovered that sometimes the history recorded can be deceiving. From writings from hundreds of thousands of years ago, we have discovered that many of these recordings are merely supported by myths, personal beliefs and lies.Most of the times, history reflects the time in which the article may be written at as opposed to the time it occurred. Every human is influenced by emotions and society and so none of us can be completely unbiased. Therefore, even though history may be true, it is also heavily opinionated. This kind of relates to what I have said earlier, truth cannot be absolute and there are different views to how it may be perceived.This is the same for history because facts are still recorded by humans and no piece of article can be absolutely true.

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True conclusion, Valid conclusion, Proof

The recent presentation gave me a great opportunity to seriously ponder over what truth really is. Truth is a farfetched concept from our daily lives. We do not really need to testify what we learn at school in order to buy some stuff in the market, figure out shortest bus route to your friend’s house. However, as Mr. Fitzgerald mentioned, we are becoming unconscious and ignorant. Great thoughts and contemplation strived for hundreds of years by prominent philosophers are now in danger of being discarded. From that perspective, I think having this kind of opportunity is valuable.

Etymology:

Well, my presentation was on “valid conclusion, true conclusion and proof”. In my presentation I distinguished valid conclusion from true conclusion. Valid conclusion is simply any conclusion that consists of justified proof/evidence/reason, regardless of right and wrong. True conclusion does not require any proof; it just stands by itself. It is true by its existence.

For instance, Democritus asserted that every material around us is composed of indivisible particles. Today, this statement is verified through sophisticated and highly developed technology. However, back then, Democritus did not have any solid evidence to convince his argument. In other words, he had ‘true’ conclusion but not ‘valid’ conclusion.

In addition, in the medieval age, people believed that the Earth is in the center of the universe and that the universe rotated around it. They asserted such assumption because the facts that sun rises and sets, and that it moves in a circular track from east to west support the geocentric view. Also, they thought if the Earth orbits or moves there should be wind blowing across its surface, just like the strong wind you can feel when you protrude your arm outside the window of a fast moving car. Thereby, geocentric theory had some valid arguments. However, even though it was valid to some extent, it was not true conclusion. This gives us another important lesson that we can’t be certain that valid conclusion is true conclusion because there is no conviction that the valid conclusion today will not be disclaimed tomorrow.

Back to what I was saying, the fact that every human eventually die is apparent and obvious to everyone. Nonetheless, in the past, the reason why all humans die was not apparent. Well, some people tried to explain death via existence of heaven and hell, some via food chain of the ecosystem, some via theory of evolution and etc. But the point is that we consider this statement to be true, despite of lacking explanation or proof as to question why and how, even today. Likewise, true statement can stand by itself, without encompassing proof.

Is there an ultimate/persistent true conclusion?

History of science is a cycle of old theory being replaced by a new one. Every assertion we make is vulnerable to criticism in the future. We cannot reach true conclusion but we are pursuing it and getting closer and closer to the ultimate knowledge. It is an endless journey where there is no final destination but where we just keep moving forward. However, this does not mean it is pointless to accept/learn new theories or pursuing discovering new ones. This unproductive skepticism will lead us to no development. That is why we can only refer knowledge to a specific time.

Emotion: proof for valid conclusion?

While watching presentation from Angelina’s group, I came up with this idea that maybe emotion involves really complicated process of reasoning. That is because emotion is a product of our brain process of millions of neurons that take charge in cognition. We might be feeling emotion because there are so many stimuli we acquire and process in our brain that we cannot explain it with logic and have to simply say “I just feel that way”. What we feel might be another ‘logical’ conclusion that our brain make after analyzing millions of stimuli. That is why it has been a challenge to psychologists for centuries to explain what emotion actually is and how it works due to its complexity. For instance, robots and computer can analyze and apply logics but it seems impossible for them to understand emotion of human. Well, one can account for that saying emotion is illogical; it is incoherent. However, ironically, emotion consists of too many logics is what I believe. If it is not coherent, how can humans empathize, understand, and share their feeling. If it is illogical, why do you agree that someone will feel angry when he has been treated unfairly or been hit. This would not happen unless emotion also follows some kind of general rule and logic.

Mathematics: Not valid as it seems to be

Mathematics starts with axioms. It is the most basic assertion considered to be correct. Based on the axioms, other mathematical theorem is built on by arranging, connecting, and organizing axioms in different ways. This process is repeated again through arranging, connecting, and organizing the prior theorems. In this way, we get continuous and numerous conclusions, the mathematical theorem. When we are connecting different axioms or theorems together, the rigorous logic and proof is followed. That is why mathematics is considered as logic based on axioms. However, what if axioms that mathematics is based on are wrong? For instance, ancient Greek mathematicians defined “1” not as a number since 1 exists in every number as a factor. But this definition of “1” differs to what we learn today that “1” is a natural number but not a prime number. Likewise, definition of terms can change. Since there is no other way to prove whether axioms are wrong or not (b/c to prove whether axiom is correct, we need to use mathematical logic that already has been derived based on the axiom that is aimed to be proven.) Mathematics can be considered as ‘logic based on assumption”.

Considering this aspect of Mathematics, I was also curious whether there is an ultimate persistent truth/logic that we can stand on. If it exists, we can use this knowledge to derive new knowledge through deductive reasoning, just like Math builds on logic on its axioms. This is largely because in deductive reasoning, as far as the first premise is true, the conclusion would be true as well. In other words, even one true sentence could build a system of truth. Then, we no longer would have to doubt what we know!!!

Math is not based on reality. It is based on numerical world based on logics and axioms. It is abstract and conceptual. Apart from imaginary number, there are plenty of contents of Math that only exist in a theory or in concepts. Even a straight line drawn by a ruler isn’t really a straight line when it is taken picture by extremely sensitive microscope. Consequently, not much of the terms or may be none of the terms in Math exist in real life. They are just impractical concepts made up in Mathematicians’ head. For instance, how would you prove  is 0? No matter how big the number you set for x is, you will never find out any number that will make 1/x into 0. We are only able to prove  is 0 in concept that as value of x increases value of 1/x gets closer to 0. However, it doesn’t mean that if you got something in your head correct would also turn out the same in reality.  This links with correspondence theory, which asserts that truth should correspond to the real world. If we consider correspondence theory as the definition for truth, mathematics will definitely lose its credibility.

Science: does it really explain us the reality?

Definition for science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. It says it aims to explore physical and natural world, the reality. This definition conforms the correspondence theory. However, if we consider concept of ideal gas, this gas does not exist in real world. It is an imaginary gas that only exists in scientists’ mind in order to elucidate properties of gas. Apart from this concept, hard science consists of various assumptions and conditions, which does not take place in the real world. This aspect does not confirm the correspondence theory.

Economy: model of the real world

In a real world, economy in a scale of global market is so complex and complicated that the economists felt it was necessary to find a model to simplify it to see the economy as a whole. Thereby, economists came up with the circular flow of income model and business cycle model where major elements, which compose the whole economy, are illustrated. Through this model, overall economic activity can be analyzed with greater simplicity.

However, this model has some limitations as well. According to the business cycle, every economy has general long term trend of growth despite it can encounter frequent expansion and recession as in short terms. However, in a real world this phenomenon is not apparent as it appears in the model. Recession can take place months or even years. This again does not confirm correspondence theory. Maybe, it is partly because human’s capability to account all the variables and elements in the real world is impossible to fully explain how it works.

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Truth, Belief, and Justified True Belief – JTB

(a) (b) Definition of ‘justified true belief’, History of ‘justified true belief’

Justified True Belief can be defined as knowledge. However, the concept of ‘knowledge’ varies according to philosophers. Plato was the first person to come up with the phrase ‘justified true belief’ and define it as knowledge. However, in the 20th century, Michael Polanyi disagreed that justified true belief is not knowledge. We found out that ‘knowledge’ in which both philosophers are talking about is different. First, Plato’s knowledge was explicit knowledge, which is articulated, codified, and stored knowledge in certain media that can be readily transmitted to others. Information contained in encyclopedias and textbooks are examples of explicit knowledge. Another type of knowledge is tacit knowledge, which Polanyi was talking about. This type of knowledge is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it and one of the examples would be knowledge of how to ride a bicycle. As a result, justified true belief can be defined as explicit knowledge.

(c) AOK

i) Math

In math, there is a term named imaginary number (i), and it indicates . We learned that there cannot be a negative number in roots. Imaginary number, as we can easily think of, doesn’t exist in reality. However, for our convenience, we assume that it is justified to solve questions. ‘To be justified’ is that we consider that imaginary number really exists while solving the question.

ii) History

History is knowledge that is passed on from the past. So we can’t be sure if the context is justified true belief or not according to the person who recorded it. For example, if country A took over the land of country B, A would see the event as territorial expansion while B sees it as robbing territory and regard A as a mean bastard. Because history can change according to the recorder, we can’t see history as justified truth.

(d) WOK

The first WOK for justified true belief is reason (I worked it out), which is the process of creating new knowledge from knowledge we already have. This is theoretically correct, but there’s no way to be certain of the fact. Next WOK is perception (I saw it) which relies upon people’s senses. This fact is most justified truth, but at the same time, is an unbelievable source for everyone else. Third WOK is language (someone told me) and this is a secondary source which causes distortion while processing. For example, in psychology, we played a little game known as ‘telephone game’ and we had to whisper what we heard to each other’s ears. At last, we could see that what the first person was trying to say and what the last person heard was different. Like this, as language passes people’s mouths, it has a very high possibility that the meaning will alter. So language can’t be said that it’s justified. Lastly, emotion (it’s just intuitively obvious) as a way of knowing, is usually known as ‘sixth sense’ or ‘gut feeling’. You just know that it’s right, but can’t explain it. This can’t be said as justified true belief because in order to be jtb, you should to be able to explain the reason verbally.

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Truth, Belief and Justified true belief

In our life, belief is regarded as something we perceive from reality. In this case, there are two options for this belief: is it true or false? If it’s true, you can call this as true belief and vice versa for false belief. Only for true belief, if the belief has any evidence or ‘justification’ to support the reliability of the belief, this true belief now can be called as ‘justified true belief’. That’s why there cannot exist justified false belief, since when you say something is justified, that already assumes that the thing is true.

Sometimes we use a term ‘knowledge’ to replace this ‘justified true belief’. This formula ‘justified true belief = knowledge’ is what Plato said, and it had been believed and applied to a number of essays by researchers and philosophers in the past. However, according to what Michael Polani said in 20th century, it is debatable whether we should keep trusting the formula or not. Michael Polani said what Plato referred as knowledge only indicates ‘explicit knowledge’, which is just one of the types of knowledge. He claimed that there exist two types of knowledge: explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is a knowledge that can be written down and verbalized, so that can be transmitted to others who are not aware of the knowledge yet, while tacit knowledge indicates a knowledge that cannot be transmitted to others. For instances, textbooks are one of the examples for explicit knowledge, and ‘how to ride a bicycle’ is included in tacit knowledge. Therefore, the formula could be corrected like this; ‘justified true belief = explicit knowledge’.

Justified true belief can be easily found in mathematics. Mathematician defined something not included in real number as imaginary number.  As the word itself conveys, the word does not exist actually. However, just for our convenience to solve questions, we assume or pretend like the concept exists sometimes. Only for the moment, we regard the imaginary number as something justified as existing one, although the concept of imaginary number does not exist in real logic and math. This is when justification is applied only for our convenience.

For history, it is very hard to define certain facts as something justified, since we only depend on what others in the past recorded. In this case, the historical facts cannot be justified easily, but we also assume that the historical events are what really happened in the past, since that’s the only information given to us. This could also be called as ‘the best alternative way’ for the situation. This is the justification for us to belief and give trust to history.

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Absolute vs Relative–Math

When Edison was in school, he claimed that 1+1=1 with following statement; if one chunk of clay is added to another chunk of clay, it is still one chunk of clay. Therefore, 1+1=1
However, Edison was wrong. Actually, his way of saying is wrong. First, the clay that is on his left hand is not same with the clay on his right hand. Second, the clay in his left hand is not same with the product clay which is on his right hand. Third, the measurement ‘chunk’ is not specific. One chunk on his right hand could be 10g and another one could be 9.5g. Then, both ones are not same one. If he had used a specific measurement like grams, he would not make this mistake.
In math, there is a term called infinity. If the numbers are added constantly, product is going to be bigger and bigger. Some people say that if there is infinity in math, it is not specific. Consider that let math has limit in numbers. If there is a limit for the numbers, then over that limit, math is not going to work because there is nothing beyond that limit. Additionally, some people say; there is a possibility that all those math theories and equations do not work in certain number since human ruled equations and theories, mistakes can be made. If that is true, all the architecture and bridge should have been destroyed. However, that disaster did not happen.
Every theory and equations in math, it is impossible to verify the theory and equations with all numbers that exist in universe. (E.g. ∑_(n=1)^∞▒1/n) For this question, how are you going to solve that? Start substituting from 1 and add the number forever and ever? No. Even though you really do so, you won’t get answer anyway.
To sum up, math is not absolute and also not relative. It stays somewhere in between.

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Valid conclusion, True conclusion; Proof

History of Valid conclusion

The very first history of valid conclusion is by Aristotle. To get background knowledge of him, we need to know about Plato as well. Aristotle studied in Plato’s Academy. In the academy, he was a brilliant student as much as opposed some of Plato’s teachings. Plato supported Dualism. He had located ultimate reality in Ideas or eternal forms, knowable only through reflection and reason, but Aristotle saw ultimate reality in physical objects, knowable through experience.

Like his argument Aristotle said, “There are reasons to every changings”

In Physica, which Aristotle wrote, 4 causation theories are appeared. The first theory is Formal cause. For example, if you see a chair, and someone ask you “what is it”, and then you will go to answer it as ‘a chair’. Like this, the answer of formal cause will be the feature of an object. Second theory is material cause. It differentiates this chair from that chair. As all chairs didn’t made by the same materials, so it gives different characteristics to each chair. Third one is efficient cause. It is an action to imply on wood to give a feature, which is a chair. The last one is final cause. It means as human action and artifact’s existence have purposes, natural phenomenon also occurs for some purpose and natural objects exist for some purpose.

In BC100, Aristotle’s students collected all the theories that he identified and publish a book called Organon. This is the very first book that organizes about principal of right reasoning. It took 2000years to develop the valid reasoning or valid conclusion further from this book. This book is consisting of Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics, and On Sophistical Refutations. In here, syllogism that we all know is appeared in Analytics.

When it came to 1900s, people finally developed something like deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

 

Human Science – Darwin’s Evolution Theory

In 1835, Darwin went to Galapagos Island and collected samples of little birds for four weeks. After 4 weeks, he analyzed his samples, and found out those birds are originally same species, ‘Finch’. However, they had all different shapes of bill and sizes. From this point, he came up with an idea of ‘all species are not fixed, but evolving’, which is a proof of his theory.

After this assertion, he had 20 years of researching to prove his idea. In this process, he got a crucial idea from ‘An Essay of the Principle of Population’ by Thomas Robert Malthus. Darwin Finally published his essay in 1844, which is a valid conclusion. However, this conclusion cannot be a true conclusion, because there are still many people, who believe ‘creationism’ in the bible.

 

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Proof, Valid and True Conclusions

My group researched Proof, Valid Conclusion, and True Conclusion. We came to understand that, to a basic level, and greatly due to Mr Macknight, a valid conclusion is solely applicable in Logic. A valid conclusion is when one utilises a series of propositions and uses deductive reasoning to come to a results. This begins with a general statement (propositions) and then come to specific, logical conclusions. On the other hand a true conclusion can be reached by inductive reasoning. Using two specific statements and making a general conclusion. For instance, the theory of evolution is build off of specific facts and evidences (e.g. fossils) and generated a theory off of it. Although, evolution is highly probable, we can not be completely certain. in conclusion, valid conclusions, can only be applied to logic, however can come to an untrue conclusion. For instance, If one of the propositions is incorrect, the conclusion may be logical, but it may also be untrue. Whilst with true conclusions, even if all of the premises are correct in a statement, inductive reasoning allows for the conclusion to be false.

Nowadays, proof is used as a noun meaning “the evidence that demonstrates a truth” (as in mathematical or legal proof).
- The verb form (meaning to test) is less often used these days although we can find it in several expression and phrases such as “the exception that proves the rule” or “proof-read”
- Clearly the distinction between these two forms of the word was originally quite slight and the proof in a “testing something” sense is only the successful outcome of a test of whether a proposition is correct or not.

Proof is not required for Knowledge. Proof can help a theory become widespread or fully “believable.” Proof is not needed for one person to know something. If a conclusion of knowledge can be based on nothing more than false proof (a kid basing the fact of Santa on the presents arriving under the tree) then a person can analyse something without proof and deduct it as fact or knowledge. We don’t need to prove that F. Scott. Fitzgerald is a great writer because it is an agreed fact.

TYPES OF PROOF

1. Logos – logic proof – appeals to the audience’s reason, understanding, and common sense.
2. Ethos – credibility proof – appeals to the audience’s impressions, opinions, and judgments about the individual stating the argument
3. Pathos – emotional proof – appeals and arouses feelings of the audience

The Proof we want to focus on is LOGOS, as the other two types of proof deal more with ideas of perception.

When proof is used in Art, it generally refers to Pathos, emotional proof. Art tends to gravitate away from using LOGOS as Oscar Wilde famously said “No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that can be proved.”

There is a limit as to what you can prove with art. You can prove that the Mona-Lisa is not depicting an elephant. You can look at the characteristics of an elephant and at the characteristics of the Mona-Lisa and see that they do not match up, hence prove that the Mona-Lisa is not a depiction of an elephant. However, art is a one-sided, biased portrayal of something. If we consider a tableau by a Renaissance painter of a battle; the amounts of casualties, blood and debris or the lack of those things may represent the battle. However there were no pictures at that time and the painter relied on mouth-to-mouth information about the battle to be able to depict it. The painter will utilise the biased info he hears as well as his own bias to create a representation. Therefore, in most cases one cannot rely on art to prove anything. But as Oscar Wilde said, one should not rely on art to prove things, as it is not the purpose of art.

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Subjective VS Objective with different AOK

1.Mathematics& Logic:
Data are observable by more than two people-> Objective
Objectivism applies to mathematics& logic in a way that it is independent from individual’s beliefs and opinions. It is an indubitable knowledge which presents definite answers, so it is considered to be extremely rational, and everyone can agree with it. Therefore, math doesn’t accept any errors.
For example, everyone will agree with 1+1=2 and 2+4=6. More specifically, if we use the rule of logic; axiom, theorem and proof. We can generalize our ideas.
2n+1 and an even number is a number which can be written as 2m
If I fill any number 4,7,10-, 78, 56.3, 67.8 until I satisfy with it, this things are important to math.
From those two axioms, we can make theorem 1: An odd number and an even number add together to give an odd number.
Then, to prove the theorem, according to the rule of logic, we need a proof.
Proof: If we let the odd number be x and the even number be n.
Then x+e=2n+1+2m=2m+2n+1=2(m+n)+1. Then if we let m+n equals to p 2p+1=1 so my theorem becomes true!

This is quite straightforward and most of us knew this already, right? For math, proof is the basically everything. We can’t say the theorem is correct before we find proof. With proof, we say math is an objective subject.. We makes certain definition about certain things as axioms,
We start from axioms to acquire knowledge. We cannot necessarily say math is true but reliable, rational and logical which makes it objective.


2.Arts
Arts, as you predict, is a highly subjective subject. Even definition of art is controversial. So when we ask what is art? In here, we don’t limit the arts into poetry, paintings and any particular form. It’s hard to stop expanding our visions of art but we can’t say everything is art. People will have different definitions of art in each other’s mind. what is your definition of art? To what extent the art is going to be?
Moving from the definition, the purpose of art is subjective too. Some people might say my purpose of art is to express my emotion. My purpose of art is to express the true beauty. My purpose of art is to teach morals, accuse the social absurdity and so on. Even more, now when we evaluate arts, do we all have same conclusion? When we say the piece of art is beautiful or not, do we all reach same conclusion? What commonly held belief is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Different people promote different value of art, so it is subjective.

3.History
History is an objective subject as it uses scientific and logics to find the pathways of past. Any historical facts are supported by the valid evidences. Though it is extremely hard to find the perfectly reliable source to find the historical facts, in a way that everyone agree with “yeah, this was happened before”, it is certainly an objective subject. However, historians expand from the basic facts. For example, Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Then what historians do is to find “why was the crossing of the Rubicon an important step?” Historians must reach the firm convincing conclusion such as the crossing of Rubicon was an important step because it meant the declaration of civil war in ancient Rome. On the other hand, the problem of history to be an objective subject is the existence of bias and selection. From the sea of data, which one should be selected? Which one is a right information? Even more the interpretation of data and facts can be biased. For example, crusades war was significant and one of the most influential war in Europe. For European countries, it was a great expedition. However, for Arabian, who lived defeated crusades, say the war was just a series of small battles. Different stance shows different view on the histories and they are biased.
Therefore, history tends to be objective subject but in reality, it is subjective by the fact that people select data what they wanted and certain facts of history becomes more opinion than facts because of the biases.

4.Natural science
Science is similar to math. It is considered to be objective as it contains logical components; observation, reason, and scientific methods to prove the certain theory. However, humans has not found science only with those mechanisms but imagination. For example, before the scientists discover the germs, we could not see them as there were no microscopes. Many people didn’t know why do they need disinfection and they consider the bacterial infection is an evil. However some scientists assumed there is a something which causes the infection or pus. Therefore, the natural science has inductive component. when there’s an assumption, scientists try hard to disprove or prove it. Then, they eventually reach general agreement. In this way, natural science is an objective subject

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Relative & Absolute; Subjective & Objective in Connection with WOK

Relative & Absolute: 

1. Reason: 

- Reason is relative most of the time because we rarely have the full picture, we then reach a conclusion based on our assumptions. Without the full parameters an absolute conclusion cannot be reached.

- Pure logical reasoning is absolute because all the parameters are known.

2. Emotion: emotions exist in both an absolute and a relative sense

- In the absolute sense, you either enjoy existing or you don’t.

Example: There is one POW who receives a slice of bread at the end of his torture. He exclaims “oh joy!”. A business man is coming home from work and a pigeon poops on his head, he exclaims “oh crap!”

- Now to address the same concepts in the relative sense:

Example:When the POW finishes his day of torture and receives his slice of bread he experiences relative happiness – compared to the rest of the day.

But he is nowhere nearly as happy as the business man on his worst day.

3. Sense Perception:

-  Perception is relative to the observer, but the existence of an objective world is absolute.

Example: A work of art may be beautiful to one person but ugly to another (relative) however they will agree that this object exists (absolute).

4. Language : Can change the way we interpret relative vs absolute.

Example: ” It’s cold today” –> would be relative because it’s variable and ambiguous the value of cold can vary from person to person. Word cold can mean different things for different people.

“It’s 2 degrees” –> would be absolute because it’s invariable and objective. Two degrees in any language would have the same meaning for every person.

Subjective vs Objective:

1. Reason: 

- True objectivity would be to see all of reality.

- So at a given moment, our reasoning is subjective because we’re only seeing part of the picture. Conclusions can also be subjective even if the reasoning behind them was not.

2. Emotion: seem to be a subjective reality, existing when one feels them, and ceasing to exist when one’s mood changes.

Subjective: the interpretation and response that each person has to them

Objective: everyone experiences emotions (feelings,moods,affects)

3. Sense Perception: perceived reality is a subjective interpretation of external conditions that is interlinked with human emotions & feelings.

Objective: what is agreed on between the majority of perceivers

Subjective: what may be disagreed on between different perceivers

4. Language : The language we use influences how we interpret information. 

- If we hear a phrase that has objective language in it we think it’s an objective claim.

Examples of objective language:  I observed, he said, I saw

- If we hear a phrase that has subjective language in it we think it’s a subjective claim.

Examples of subjective language: She does not like, he thinks, he did not want to…

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Limited physical senses in terms of Quantum theory

Few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how our limited physical senses can sometimes lead us to make serious mistakes. I gave personal experiences of when I have mistaken the depth of the river and mistaken pesticide with strawberry juice. However, I realized that our limited physical senses does not only lead us to cause this kind of minor accidents but also lead us to considerable mistakes in the process of exploring and seeking knowledge. For instance, in the subatomic world, atoms constitute every object and all atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons. In the atom, electrons orbit around the nucleus where protons and neutrons are located. However, this discovery shocked many physicists at first because, in the macro-world, the world that we can perceive physically, all electrically charged things radiate energy away if they move in curved path, in this sense electrons become too unstable to orbit around the nucleus. In other words, our physical sense limited to macro-world failed to interpret the micro-world that we cannot perceive. Unfortunately, we still tend to expect something to happen in accordance with our common sense. This leads us to prejudice that micro-world, or any world beyond our physical sense, would work in similar ways just like the macro-world that we can perceive. However, it should be noted that it is dangerous to make frail judgment with our limited physical sense without any hard, solid observation.

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Ethical beliefs and judgements

Our ethical judgments can be influenced by language, emotion, and false reasoning based on beliefs we have accepted without questioning. Ethical decisions can be learned by language, altered by emotion and believed by false reasoning. It depends on how you are grown, what country you were born in or grown in, it might even be if you are educated or not. It is basically way of thinking differently.

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How language can influence our ethical beliefs and judgements

When we using a language to communicate with others,  and it could influence our ethical beliefs and judgements, but how? The language a an Art, a way to presenting yourself, if you have a pretty fluent and accurate pronunciation, people will believe that you must had high education or a great lady/gentleman. Also, being  successful affect by what language you choose to used. For example, if you are a business man, you have to know the rule of the game. You have to selling products to people, makes people believed that they can trust you, also you need to using the language make your workers give allegiance to you.However, if you do not know how to using your language, the main problem will be you will not have any friends, even you are very intelligent. When you open your mouth with a caustic verbal attack showing your opinion, no one will like and want to listening.

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How language can influence our ethical beliefs and judgements

When I say that language can influence our ethical beliefs and judgments, many people will not understand how that happens. We usually think oppositely, that our ethical beliefs and judgments affect the way we say things. However, we can see examples of this frequently in real life. If you did something wrong to the other, and that person got mad, you will explain what happened long-windedly to those who has no idea on this affair. Naturally leaving out the part where it’s your fault. As a result you will have those people on your side, thinking that it was not a big deal and that the person you fought with is a lousy person. This is one minor case in which language influence our ethical beliefs and judgements. If your friends saw this affair objectively, without you telling them, they would all know that it was your fault. You did not tell lies, but by leaving out some part that you feel is unfavorable to you, you changed their judgements and became your side.

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Our ethical judgments can be influenced by language

Language has a function of conveying meanings. However, when people tell something to others, they often change a small, pity part of the words. As a result, the actual meanings of words change into totally different aspects. This influences hugely on a listener’s answer, judgments and decisions. This evidenced by a famous survey that had been progressed in a country contains nuclear weapons. An interviewer asked a group of citizens, “Do nuclear weapons of our country make you feel safe?” 45% of people answered yes, 50% said no, and 5% didn’t answered to the question. We can see negative answer is slightly more than the positive answer. However, to another group, they got the same question with a small, pity change. “Do nuclear weapons of our country make you feel safer?” Half of the group said yes, 36% said no and 14% didn’t answered. Now we can see the multitude’s answer changed. This tiny difference, the existential of ‘er’ or ‘r’, makes great dissimilarity on interpretation. What makes it so different? In the former, we need to think about whether unclear weapons guarantee safety or not as you heard the question. But in the latter, we end up questioning if nuclear weapons are added, whether it will promise safer condition or not.  Hence, it is easier to draw the positive answer. Since humans got a question, they detect the meaning of it. Simultaneously, they restrained unconsciously by the words, which consist the question.

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Assignment: Our Languages and ethical judgments

Our ethical judgments can be influenced by language, emotion, and false reasoning based on beliefs we have accepted without questioning. Give examples of how each of these factors may form our beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.

To begin with, language has been used as an effective tool to alter our ethical judgments throughout our histories. Leaders of nations occasionaly used elaborate languages to decorate and justify their decisions. They helped persuade publics and their ethics. For example, when USA dropped an atomic bomb into Japan, what USA president, Truman said was “there was no way to end this war and it was compulsory to save thousand millions of USA citizen’s lives.” Two atomic bombs killed about one hundrend thousands of people at the time they were exploded, and most of them are citizens who have never participated the war. Dropping atomic bomb was definitely one of the most tragic events made by human and it verses what we call ethics in human society,prohibiting taking other human’s lives. Surprisingly, however, most US citiznes, and even the people all over the world illustrated dropping atomic bomb unavoidable although there must be the other ways for both USA and Japan to end pacific war. How could this happen? This is because what Truman said to justify dropping atomic bombs stimulated people’s will to finish war as quickly as possible.This is how language works to influence people’s ethical judgement. When people are persuaded by the tactic use of languages, they may judge unreasonable ethical judgment, which might be far from the common senses they have about ethics. Thus, languages certainly influences our beliefs and distracts our considering what is right and what is wrong.

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The Influence of Clutter on Our Ethical Beliefs and Judgments

Clutter is used to influence our ethical beliefs and judgments in a positive manner. To clutter means to fill a sentence with many things that are not useful. When a complicated phrase can be replaced by a single word this means that it was clutter. Firms and professionals tend to use phrases such as ‘There is no doubt that in this particular instance the total operating costs are inflated’ instead of ‘At this instance the operating costs are high’ because it gives them a sense of authority. People often associate those who have authority with being experts and this leads them to believing what they say. This is how clutter can be used to influence our judgment of what and who to believe in a positive manner. In addition, euphemisms which are also classified as clutter are as well used to influence our ethical beliefs. They are used by politicians or governments to understate the truth. In politics, ‘a relocation center’ is preferred to ‘a prison camp’ because it softens the harshness of the word and makes it more acceptable by using expressions with good connotations. After hearing this phrase, people then believe this idea is correct and accept it. This is how clutter can be used to influence our ethical beliefs in a positive manner.

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Does Language affect our culture and personal ethics?

It is common sense that decisions or judgements are made by our brain, therefore it is nearly hard to believe they are also influenced by language. A society will make attempts to change its language to reflect its own cultural values and ethics, and definitely the language we use is important to influencing our audience. While I was reading an article on “Does Language Affect Our Culture and Personal Ethics?” by Colette Phair, there is a section that describes the language of ethics, “The field of ethics uses specific terms to designate subfields, values, and areas of inquiry, i.e., “good” (what we should want) versus “right” (what we should do).” One of the Professor — David Schmidtz sees ethics as a concrete system with may rules to learn, which he thinks it is quite similar to mathematics. On the other study of language and ethical identity, the linguist found out that behind one social cultural environment, the word you say in your language might mean a complete different thing in other languages, as the result, that thing will stuck in your brain depends on the meaning of that word in your language, while other language speakers will regard that thing as a complete opposite, maybe, due to their language. Thus language can influence our life, however it creates a more complicated world for we don’t view things from the same point of view because of our languages.

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The Power of Language: Ethical beliefs and judgements

Whether we perceive it or not, language controls our mind. Depending on a tone of a language, any decisions you would make in a certain situation could be inclined to a specific way. If you are a fluent and native speaker of a language, you will be able to convey a word to someone while hiding any context you do not want to tell. If you are a speaker who fancies pompous and wordy style of speaking, it won’t be an issue for you to exaggerate the news you are conveying. The nuance affected by a speaker’s tone is that influential. In terms of ethical judgments and beliefs, the tone of a language still remains quite significant. For example, there’s a woman agonizing over whether to have an abortion or not. Like what I’ve just said, this type of sentence explaining a certain situation does not reveal any subjective perspectives and aspects, unless a listener or a reader has a particular emotion towards the concept, ‘abortion’. However, if just a little bit of nuance, the subjectivity is added to this objective sentence, it can change the conveyed meaning entirely. ‘There’s a woman agonizing over whether to end her pregnancy deliberately by killing her baby or not’. Although there’s nothing changed in meaning, this sentence seems like expressing abortion in a negative way. By putting a word ‘killing’, which is absolutely negative for most people, it can deliberately encourage those people reading it to regard abortion as something bad. This is the power of language.

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Ethical reasoning influenced by language

Our ethical reasoning is neither absolute nor fixed. Language is one of the major factors that influence how people make ethical reasoning. It sets a general outline and circumscribes our ethical reasoning. Then, we make our reasoning fitting into that outline. It is like a molding process where molten iron solidifies into a shape of its cast, or any liquid which has its shape according to the shape of its container. For instance, there are different ways of  expressing an identical matter: “a student deliberately and brutally hits the other student” or “a student had an unfortunate physical contact with the other student”. That is because “they had an aggressive and hostile fight” or “they had different interest and concern that caused them to have slight conflict”. First description  has described the ‘fight’ in a negative way. In contrast, the second description has described the ‘fight’ in a lenient way. Thus, if any person who is asked to make an ethical judgment on the ‘fight’ after reading the first description, he would be likely to determine that the ‘fight’ is wrong and otherwise for the second description. Not only that, language can take certain perspective into account. For instance, it can be expressed either “Japanese Prime minister paid his respects at Yasukuni Shrine where top war criminals  who killed hundreds of innocent people violently in torture in second world war were buried” or “Japanese Prime minister paid his respects at Yasukuni Shrine where ancestors who gladly sacrificed themselves for their country in second world war were buried”. In this case, any person who reads the first sentence would make ethical reasoning against the worship that it is wrong. However, a person who reads the second sentence would consider the worship to be justified. This is because, these two sentences consist of different perspective, a perspective of whom associated to a country fought against Japan and a perspective of whom associated to Japan, towards the matter leading to different ethical reasoning. Usage of terminology can entail different ethical reasoning as well. For example, Japanese authority kidnapped women and pressed them into sexual slavery during second world war. They employed euphemism to term these pitiful women as “Comfort Women” rather than “Enforced sex slaves” in order to alleviate negative nuance. That is why people who do not have background knowledge on this issue might not agree why “Comfort women” is ethically wrong. Instead, they are likely to think: “Isn’t comfort women women who aimed to give comfort to soldiers whose death is impending? I can’t see why that is wrong.”

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The influence of language on our ethical beliefs and judgments

The manner in which we express ourselves has a strong influence on how we perceive and judge things in our daily lives. In an article on language and it’s effect on Blame, the author, Boroditsky, mentions that in English one would say “you broke the vase” even if it was an accident, however in Chinese or Spanish one would say “the vase broke itself.” This example shows how the way that certain things are expressed can cause preconceptions that may not be accurate; creating an instantaneous negative or positive connection or including emotions and feelings simply by the way that something is phrased. Boroditsky went on to mention an experiment done on the subject mentioned by Caitlin Fausey, who discovered that when shown a film with people “breaking a vase” or “spilling drinks,” the English speaker’s were more likely to remember who those people were rather than the Chinese speakers. This is because these sentences are said in such a way that they involve the feeling of guilt or blame and ultimately an emotional connection ameliorates memory. In conclusion, language can affect the way people view different subject matters and respond to them.

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Ethical Reasoning

Ethic, it is what cannot be defined in one sentence. For individual, ethic is what have been affected by his/her personal experiences and social background, and because of this, every each person’s criteria to decide what is right or wrong cannot be identical. Therefore, even though the given situation is same – in this case, it’s abortion – we cannot assure that a certain ethical approach is the only suitable approach for the certain situation. For example, some people could claim that ‘because abortion is a personal choice, any ethical approaches that give priority to our society and community, like the utilitarian approach or the common-good approach, cannot be applied to this scenario of abortion.’ However, isn’t this statement also including an error? The statement is making a logical fallacy, the hasty generalization. For some people who regard the abortion as a widespread social issue, the utilitarian approach and the common-good approach also could be applied to this case as well, since for those people who have a different view of ethic, the personal liberty of choice is not regarded as important as the social impact that the abortion could bring. Like this, it is impossible to specify a single approach as a proper approach for a certain situation.

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Ethical Reasoning

In 2 hours of classes, I have done my ethical reasoning exercise. There are 2 scenarios. In one scenario, I become the ruler of a nation and make decisions on abortion in 5 situations. On the another one, I become the woman who pregnant.

It was very hard to decide whether I should abort the baby or not. I do not want the baby but if I abort that baby then, it means that I will kill my baby just for me. For scenario 1, I prefer utilitarian approach and the fairness, justice, or rights approach. This is because I do not want to affect other people. For scenario 2, I would not abort baby because it is bad for my health and also I would feel very guilty. By doing this exercise, I learnt that even small things can affect various people and contributes unwanted and unexpected results so I need to be careful and think one more time before I make decisions.

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Ethical Reasoning

This exercise revealed to me that ethical reasoning is quite an interesting collection of theories, which supposedly enable people to make the best decision. Each one has characteristics that will make it a suitable approach, however each on also has flaws therefore making its applicability for every case impossible. For instance, the utilitarian approach would be a good approach to dictate a ban on cars in a city, which would benefit a greater amount of people through less pollution and congestion and ameliorated public transport, however disadvantage a small group of people. Unfortunately, when applied to decisions such as abortion, the utilitarian approach becomes a weak approach as abortion is a personal choice and others should not be affected by a single individuals decision to abort. I believe most of us undergo ethical reasoning subconsciously. When we make the decision to break the silence in a class room and answer the teachers’ question – we make that decision using the self-interest approach as we will look good and also the common-good approach as we act as the ice breaker which may lead to others raising their hands or at least for the lesson to continue. We all need to be aware that these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages and that we cannot apply every approach the same way with different topics.

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Reasoning About Ethics

I have just finished the exercise of Reasoning About Ethics where I had two scenarios. In the first one, I had to choose whether abortion was legal or illegal according to each ethical reasoning approach. In the second one, I was a woman who had to decide whether to get an abortion according to each ethical reasoning approach.

This exercise revealed to me that while making a decision in real life one does not go through each ethical reasoning approach. Usually, while making individual decisions the only approach that is considered is the self-interest approach. On the other hand, if it is a decision made by a politician they should use the utilitarian or common-good approach(theoretically). By being forced to think about different approaches than the one I would’ve normally used, it allowed me to question how each case could’ve been applied to each situation. Questioning made me realize that there were many different ways of applying ethical reasoning approaches to each situation.

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Reasoning about Ethics- Abortion

As a woman who becomes pregnant and does not wish to bear a child,I would choose abortion as:

From 1. The utilitarian approach,

I would choose abortion as I cannot promise the well being of him/her when initially, I do not want him/her in my life. Rather than mistreating and ignoring the child, abortion benefits mainly the child but also myself and other people who may be affected about the subject (e.g relatives).

From 2. The fairness, justice or rights approach,

It is entirely my decision of abortion and I feel this does not affect others. Similarly, I do not think they should interfere with my decision as we all have different approaches and in no way does aborting my child influence anyone else’s justice or rights.

From 3. The common-good approach,

The abortion of one child does not in either way influence the community as a whole. No one will follow my actions if they wish to have a child.

From 4. The virtue/ Universal Law/Religious Theory approach,

Personally, I do not think abortion contradicts with ethics as it is completely one’s own choice. However, it does depend on religion if the individual truly believes in their religion, but still, it should be legal for abortion, as religious individuals have the choice not to abort.

From 5. Self Interest approach,

I would abort my baby if I wish to do so after careful decision.

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logical fallacy

Fallacy is common error in reasoning that will undermine the logic of our argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant poinnts, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in our own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.

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Real life situation

We have discussing what we believed and what we choose to do, but human action are not always what we expect. Different people had different thinking, a boy see a flower he said it’s white, but the girl said it’s pink. This is the different situation we have when we facing a same fact.

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Logical Fallacy

Logical fallacy is an error of reasoning based on a bad piece of reasoning and unrepresentative sample is part of the inductive fallacies. Unrepresentative sample is the sample used in an inductive inference that is different from the population as a whole. The target population should always be identified and narrowly defined so that no sampling bias occur. Unrepresentative sample can be seen a lot in many studies and researches. For example, the researcher can cast participants that are professionals or has interest in that specific topic so that they would be able to get results that are qualitative. However, studies that used this type of sampling technique tries to generalise the results they’ve got, which is logical fallacy.

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Logical Fallacy

Logical fallacy is a fallacy, which is a clearly defined error in reasoning to support or refute an argument. This includes hasty Generalization. Hasty generalization is the size of the sample is too small to support the conclusion. For example, Korea is well known as developed plastic surgery technology. Lots of Japanese, Chinese and even Russian visit Korea to have surgeries every year. This lead others to hasty generalization easily, such as Korea is so famous for plastic surgery and even many of Korean actress got surgery. So all female Koreans must have got one. This can form a prejudice, so it should be think again whether the reason is right or wrong.

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Sense Perception

Our physical senses are limited and can sometimes lead us to make serious mistakes. For an example, sometimes we saw a situation, but we couldn’t recognize we saw it, just like the gorilla clips we saw on YouTube. These show the limit of sight perception. This happens because our brain judged that information, walking around gorilla in the clips, was unnecessary to us. This kind of judgment helps us to concentrate more on other necessary information, counting the number of pass. In real life, this can be a big disadvantageous, such as when you became an eyewitness of an accident or event case and need to give testimony. It is dangerous to just trace back a dim memory, because if you weren’t noticing what was actually going on there, you can even create new memory during tracing. This happens quite often and makes the case unsolvable.

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Logical Fallacy

We make a number of errors and mistakes when we make a decision, because we are not a perfect being. Logical fallacy is included in the ‘errors and mistakes’ as well. In our real-life situations, ‘hasty generalization’ is the most common logical fallacy we face. Our perception is so limitative and because of that we cannot see a whole picture generally; we only focus on a single aspect. For example, if there’s someone looking at a pigeon, a crow and a cucoo with thinking that all birds can fly, this is the hasty generalization, since there are a lot of counterexamples like a chicken and a penguin. This kind of wrong decision in a range of individual does not make any serious following consequences, however, if the decision is something can influence hugely to other people, then this ‘hasty generalization’ is what should be regarded more seriously.

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Logical Fallacy (Slothful Induction)

A person insists on exercising outside in an area which has a high pollution levels. This person has also read studies proving that the combination of exercise and air pollution increase the risk of dying of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. To reduce the risks of potential health risks they could exercise in an area with a lower pollution level, such as a gym. However they choose to deny the evidence and still go running outside because they are certain that nothing will happen to them.

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Logical Fallacy (Hasty Generalization)

Hasty generalization happens everywhere at anytime. Therefore, a real-life situation would be around us. For example, we like to joke around about Rafter (no offense) who is somewhat anti - Asian and anti - social according to someone not to be named, thus all Cantonese are anti - Asian and anti - social. This stereotype he/she has towards Cantonese does not represent the entire population. He/she is using Rafter as a tiny size of sample to illustrate the entire population of Cantonese, this is an example of hasty generalization.

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Logical Fallacy

Humans are able to think and express their opinion by using language and being reasonable. However, somewhat reasons we have, we do not always think or be reasonable, which is called logical fallacy. There are many types of logical fallacy, but I will talk about hasty generalization. Hasty generalization is the size of the sample is too small to support the conclusion. For example, Tom, who is Chinese, eats dog. Therefore, all Chinese eat dog. However, not all Chinese eat dog, just some of them eat dogs. Basically, by saying that we are stereotyping Chinese.

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Logical Fallacies

Currently, in English class, we are looking at advertisements and advertising techniques. We looked at some advertisements that claimed to have “The best-selling product on the market.” This implies to audiences that because more people buy it, it must be better than other products and therefore the best product. However, this is a perfect example of a logical fallacy, to be exact it depicts a certain type of fallacy called Ad Populum, which concludes a proposition to be true because most people believe it, “if many believe so, it is so.”

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Logical Fallacy

Although humans have ability to think rationally and reasonably, they do not always think logically for different reasons. This phenomenon is called the logical fallacy. Logical fallacy also includes a type called hasty generalization which is categorized as inductive fallacy. For instance, there is an internet cartoon called web-toon. Each series is updated on the web every 11 p.m. However, when I watch the updated series, my mother often scold me because she generalized that I would be watching the cartoon at school or  at different time as well.

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Our physical senses do NOT lead us into mistakes but enjoyment of our life!

“Our physical senses are limited and can sometimes lead us to make serious mistakes.” This statement leads me into thinking about why would our physical senses lead us to make such mistakes since, they guide our life as one of the requirements. Our senses are limited, but they are limited only to the thing we that are not needed for our life to live. For example, we are not desperate to see the radio waves or the Wi-Fi signal in our life, they can’t help us to live the way we enjoyed and loved but — annoyance. In such case, we do not need to hear the noises of something that we think it will disturb our life to even ruin our life instead of making it better. They don’t lead us to make serious mistakes, but enjoyment of our existence. We do not live to see the exasperation of the radio waves or the Wi-Fi signal, we are up to the standard of what we can see, the limit of what we are able to see, smell, taste, feel, and hear. In such way, serious mistakes will cause no trouble in our life but make our life easier and simpler than ever.

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Real Life Situations

Last week in TOK we learned about Real Life Situations. As we were able to witness in Dash and Jarand’s oral presentations, RLS can either be personal or of a global issue. Although both are acceptable, a personal RLS is distinctively better as it makes it increasingly relatable for the audience and has more focus on a small subject rather than looking at a larger idea where time may be lost whilst explaining context. We also looked at the difference between content based questions and knowledge based questions. We learned how to distinguish between the two and that a knowledge based question is more likely to stir up more thoughtful and provocative ideas.

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