Write a paper on one of the arguments below. Make sure the paper reconstructs the argument and only the argument (no unnecessary or idle premises). Then object to the argument. Your paper should: Begi

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Write a paper on one of the arguments below. Make sure the paper reconstructs the argument and only the argument (no unnecessary or idle premises). Then object to the argument. Your paper should:

  1. Begin with a brief summary of the argument.
  2. Reconstruct the argument into standard form: make sure your reconstruction is valid.
  3. For each line in your argument, note whether it is a premise or a subconclusion. If it is a subconclusion, indicate which premises it follows from.
  4. Give a brief defense of each premise. You should aim for your defense for each premise to be a paragraph of text in length.
  5. Deny a premise: briefly state which premise you deny and explain why you think it is false.
  6. Turn your reasoning into a standard form argument. Make sure that the conclusion of the argument is ‘Not (P)’, where (P) is the premise you chose to deny. Make sure your argument is valid.
  7. For each line in your argument, note whether it is a premise or a subconclusion. If it is a subconclusion, indicate which premises it follows from.
  8. Give a brief defense of each premise. You should aim for your defense for each premise to be a paragraph of text in length.
  9. Add a concluding paragraph where you address the following question: does your objection work? Or can the proponent of the original argument find a premise to reject?

“Circular Arguments”

Circular arguments – arguments where the conclusion is included in the premises can be good arguments. All circular arguments are valid: it is impossible for the premises to be true while the conclusion is false because the premises include the conclusion. Also, some circular arguments have all true premises. We can then see that circular arguments can be deductively strong arguments. And maybe circular arguments are unconvincing, but “unconvincing” is a problem of rhetorical power, not rational strength. We should just agree that, from the perspective of rational strength, some circular arguments are perfectly good arguments.

Write a paper on one of the arguments below. Make sure the paper reconstructs the argument and only the argument (no unnecessary or idle premises). Then object to the argument. Your paper should: Begi
Sample Paper – Is Every Good Deed Selfish? In an episode of the 1990s TV series Friends1, Joey: Well, yeah, it was a really nice thing and all, but: it made you feel really good, right? Phoebe: Yeah, so? Joey: Well, it made you feel good, so that makes it selfish. Look, there’s no unselfish good deed. Sorry. (4:00-4:20) Phoebe then spends the rest of the episode trying to find a way to do something good without feeling good about it. (a) Summary Joey argues that all actions are ultimately selfish. His reasoning is that even good deeds are selfish, because they make the person feels good about doing a good deed. (b) Reconstruction: Every action that makes one feel good is selfish. (premise) Every seemingly selfless action is an action that makes one feel good. (premise) So, every seemingly selfless action is selfish. (1-2) If every seemingly selfless action is selfish, then every action is selfish. (premise) So, every action is selfish. (3-4)2 (c) Defenses Joey does not provide any reasons to think that (1) is true, so I will provide one on his behalf. An action is selfish if the consequence of that action is that the person who does it is better off. Feeling good is better than not feeling good. So, we should think that every action that makes one feel good is selfish. Joey argues for premise (2) by presenting a case: Phoebe being a surrogate mother for her brother. Joey claims that even this seemingly selfless action made Phoebe feel great. He then extrapolates from this case to the general claim. He also challenges Phoebe to come up with examples of seemingly selfless action that don’t make someone feel good. Joey does not argue for (4), because he thinks it is obviously true. To see why, assume that every seemingly selfless action is selfish. This only leaves actions that are not seemingly selfless: actions that are seemingly selfish. But there is no reason to think that seemingly selfish actions wouldn’t be as they seem: selfish. So, on the assumption that every seemingly selfless action is selfish, we should conclude that every action is selfish. My Objection Phoebe spends the episode of friends trying to find counterexamples to premise (2). I think this is misguided, since there are good reasons to think that premise (1) is false. I object by claiming that feeling good about the well-being of others is itself selfless. As a result, actions whose consequence is that we feel good about helping others are not selfish. We can give a more formal reconstruction of the argument as follows It is not selfish to feel good about the well-being of others. If it is not selfish to feel good about the well-being of others, then actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish. So, actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish. (1-2) If actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish, then not every action that makes one feel good is selfish. So, not every action that makes one feel good is selfish. (3-4) The reason to accept premise (1) is quite obvious. If someone is truly selfish, it would make no sense for them to feel good about the well-being of others, as there would be no reason to care about their well-being. So it is not selfish to feel good about the well-being of others. For premise (2), assume that it is not selfish to feel good about the well-being of others. But this means that it is not for selfish reasons that one feels good about helping others. But if it is not for selfish reasons that an action makes one feel good, then it is not a selfish action. So, on the assumption that it is not selfish to feel good about the well-being of others, we should conclude that actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish. Premise (4) is pretty obviously true. Assume that actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish. Given that there are some such actions, it follows that there are actions that make one feel good and are not selfish. So, on our assumption that actions that make one feel good about the well-being of others are not selfish, we should conclude that not every action that makes one feel good is selfish. Conclusion: In this paper, I have presented an objection to Joey’s argument for the conclusion that everything we do is selfish. Joey assumes, and Phoebe does not question, that feeling good about what you did is enough to make that action selfish. What I have argued is that it matters why you feel good about the action you did. If you feel good for selfless reasons, then we no longer have any reason to think that the action is selfish. I imagine Joey might reply that even in such circumstances, one does benefit from doing a selfish deed. But since benefitting is not the reason one does the deed, it is hard to see why this would make it selfish. 1“The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS” Friends, season 5, episode 4, NBC, 18 Oct. 1998. 2Note that the steps (1-3) are using a predicate pattern, while (3-5) are using a sentential pattern. You are allowed to mix and match like this as long as each step of the argument follows a valid pattern.

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