Philosophy and critical thinking

Welcome to philosophy and critical thinking. My name is Andrew Tulloch. I have a bachelor of arts majoring in philosophy and sociology, with a minor in political science. I have a class 2 division 1 honours degree in philosophy. I also teach primary school ethics classes and have ambitions to continue my studies at Phd level.

This blog is designed to create blog tutorials on introductory philosophy for those interested in philosophy and philosophical methods. This blog will also comment on literature, politics and media from a philosophical perspective.

If you wish to have a news article, youtube video, television debate or other piece of literature analysed from a philosopher’s perspective, please comment below with your request.

Also, if you have any questions regarding philosophical topics please comment your question and I will post an answer in the Follower’s questions section.

10 thoughts on “Philosophy and critical thinking”

  1. Hi Andrew,
    What do you really know?
    The reason I ask this is that in the age of “fake news ” what I once that to be an indisputable truth has been revealed to be built on lies and fabrication. From climate change to global politics and religion, amongst others, the old adage ” the first casualty in war is truth” appears to be alive and well today.
    Should I trust my own perceptions and gut feelings, or is it all just a program in a quantum super-computer from the distant future?
    What do you really know, from a philosophical viewpoint?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your question Mark,

      There seems to be two parts to your question, one being the nature of knowledge regarding the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ and the other being the nature of knowledge regarding philosophy. I’ll answer the latter first.

      Your example of the supercomputer illuminates the problem perfectly. This problem comes from Rene Descartes where he imagined an evil demon deceiving him all the time. If we only grant knowledge as something we can know with absolute certainty, then this is a problem. This is because in order to know with absolute certainty that we are not in a computer program, then we need to be able to rule it out. But we can’t. Any sense experience we have could be delivered by such a program. So, by this standard there is only one thing I can know for certain, and that is I exist as something capable of thinking. This is where the famous “I think, therefore I am” comes from.

      There is wealth of philosophical literature trying to tackle this problem. Most involve settling for less ambitious definition of knowledge, like extremely probable or the best explanation. I tend to favour inference to the best explanation, which is what is the best explanation for what we are observing (however this does not obviously solve the supercomputer problem, my answer to that is the less philosophically impressive “well if it’s true then there’s not much we can do about it, but if it’s not true we can do alot about the world if it is as we are observing it”)

      So, to say I know something can either be I can rule out all possible alternatives or this is the best explanation given our observations.

      Regarding your concern about Fake News, I believe this is less about the philosophical nature of knowledge and more about how we access information. Yes as you note the dissemination of outright lies has existed long before Fake News was coined. However, this has been exacerbated by the Internet and Social Media. Ultimately, I think the main sources of this problem seem to be the unwillingness to fact check (many social media fake news posts are easily falsifiable) and our tendancy to only investigate claims that go against our worldview. Mix this in with Internet algorithms that make people more likely to consume the same media source this makes Fake News an attractive, albeit dishonest, marketing strategy.

      I hope this has answered your question properly, if there’s anything I missed or you want more clarification on please let me know.

      Thanks,

      Andrew.

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  2. Greetings Mr Tulloch,
    I trust all is well, and you are surviving the virus . Your book has arrved, and i am enjoying it greatly. Would it be a great impost if i asked questions when i have finished my reading.
    PS, i would have enjoyed hearing more from you when you sat on the panel of the Blackheath philosophy forum. As an aside, i am a huge fan of Mr Baldwin. I reckon he does a fantastic job .
    With much respect
    Simon howells

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Simon,

      Yes of course. And thanks for buying the book. Yes I enjoyed being a part of the discussion. It was my first time taking part in an online discussion so it was good practice. I’m glad you are enjoying the book and indeed ask any questions and all objections/criticisms are welcome.

      Thanks again,

      Andrew.

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      1. Sir,
        Objections / criticisms???? hardly ,more clarifications. I utterly love different and diverse thinking particularly from my betters who have such fertile minds i hoe the mighty Mr Baldwin engages your talents more .
        Kanpai
        Simon

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Mr Tulloch,
        i reckon your book is a good read. I do have a couple of questions. They do not necessarily relate to your book ,so i am pleased with a yes/no answer. if i get a no, i figure i am on the wrong track.
        “shared experience”? i know what you mean by this phrase, could i say from a purely philosophical point of view all experiences are unique to that being. perceptions of event are influenced by mood, memory, economic situations etc? i seem to recall police saying 2 people can witness the same event but have different descriptions of that event.
        PS have you heard the independent high brow jokes
        a Philosopher walks into a bar as says to the bar man ” is it solipsistic in here, or just me?”
        thank you for your time and consideration
        with much gratitude and respect
        simon

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you Simon. Yes I agree that ultimately all experiences are unique to each individual. That said, I think our ability to imagine someone else’s experiences exists on a spectrum. And yes I think this is very relevant to the book. I think what strikes the best balance is that groups of people that have had similar experiences would have better knowledge of what it is like than people outside the group that have not experienced anything remotely close to what the group has. I think the practice of group therapy sessions for PTSD is a good expression of what I mean. Within the group, each individual has experiences specific only to them, yet they benefit from an environment where they can empathise with one another due to the similar nature of their experiences. This what I mean regarding shared experiences. But yes not all philosophers agree, and I like that joke no I haven’t heard it lol. It reminds me of a joke about behaviourism: Two behaviourists just finished making love. One turns to the other and says “well that was good for you, was it good for me?”

        Thanks again Simon if you have any more questions or anything you wish to discuss please don’t hesitate to let me know.

        Andrew.

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  3. Hi Mr Tulloch,
    loved your last blog addition. I have another stupid question to ask. again, I do understand your “trolley dilemma” with respect to our prejudice/ empathy.
    on an entirely different tangent ,is it a long bow to draw to also apply the “trolley Dilemma” to free will and/ or predestination?
    again, thank you for your time and consideration
    simon

    Like

    1. Hi Simon,
      There are no stupid questions. Or, to quote my high school teachers “the only stupid question is the one left unasked”.

      Wow, free will is a big one. It depends on what position you take. If you are what they call a hard determinist (we are fully determined, therefore no free will, therefore cannot praise/blame each other), then whatever choice we make is not up to us because we couldn’t have done otherwise anyway. So, we cannot be blamed or praised for either option.

      A compatibilist on the other hand (fully determined, but still have free will if we are not constrained in some other way from doing what we want to do) would treat whether or not we have free will as irrelevant to the trolley problem. No one has a gun to your head, so you are free to choose to pull/not pull the lever, so you inherit all the blame/praise relevant to your decision.

      Free will normally is phrased under the condition ‘could have done otherwise’. If you could have done otherwise, you are morally responsible for your choice. But since the trolley dilemma assumes two options, it may not be very helpful in defending either hard determinism or compatibilism.

      There is a free will introductory blog post if you’re interested, since I used a lot of jargon in my response that may need clarifying if you’re unfamiliar.

      Please ask away any questions and I’ll be happy to answer.

      Thanks again,

      Andrew.

      Like

      1. According to Sir Humphrey in “yes minister”, as Lenin said, everything is connected to everything else .that said, what i enjoy about philosophy is that all must be taken in context and is connected to other aspects of thought . No thought can be taken i isolation. I am so grateful for the opportunity to ask you these questions and receive a very civil response .
        Kanpai

        Liked by 1 person

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