Critical Thinking and Moral Philosophy

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

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Elenchus (Socratic Method):

a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.


An attitude of critical thoughtfulness concerning highly fundamental and general beliefs

Deductive Argument:

Attempts to show that a conclusion necessarily follows the premises

Validity vs. Soundness:

Validity is a deductive argument which the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true, whereas soundness combines both validity and true premises

Inductive Argument:

Attempts to provide reasons for the truth of the conclusion, the conclusion states more than what is contained in the premises, universal conclusion.

Glaucon’s Restatement of the case for injustice/immorality (Ring of Gyges):

The origin of morality (Justice) is a “contract” to neither do nor suffer injustice. Secondly, all those who are moral are so unwillingly. Thirdly, the immoral life is better than the moral one, example think of someone who is immoral but everyone thinks is moral and also the opposite, which is better?

Cultural Differences Argument:

Cultural Relativism:

One can only be judged by the standards and morals of their culture because morality is determined by each culture.

Implications of Cultural Relativism:

Several objections, there are some moral beliefs that are shared by all cultures, there is a difference between what a society says about morality and what is really true, critical evaluation requires universal principle, some moral codes are better than others, in order to criticize, we must not tolerate everything.

Simple Subjectivism:

Approval/disapproval, whether you personally like/enjoy something, problem is one cannot agree or disagree because everything anyone says is just opinion.


Language is used in many ways, factual descriptions (capable of being true or false), expression of attitude (one can disagree in attitude) and commands.


Self-interests and selfish actions, people should act in their self-interest. Problems are that if good is your selfish motivations, when universalized its inconsistent because not everyone’s selfish motivations are the same

Socrates’ definition of oratory:

Knack vs. craft:

knack is simply something that one is instinctively better at than others and a craft is a skill that one acquires through pursuit.

Nature vs. Convention:

Two ways of life in the Gorgias:

Callicles- the best life is a pleasurable, one’s appetite should be expanded. Socrates- the best life is a virtuous one, ordered soul, do what one truly wants.

Hedonistic Egoism:

pleasure is the good, one ought to attain as much pleasure as possible, therefore allow ones appetites to continue to expand because more appetite=more pleasure.

Socrates’ Refutation of Callicles:

Leaky Jar- desiring pleasure is like being a jar with holes. Stone Curluw, mythical bird that eats and defecates at the same time (perpetually filling yourself). Prostitution, Callicles is disgusted by this however his argument says live any life with pleasure.

Sophisticated Hedonism:

Pleasure is good, but total pleasure not subjective pleasure.

The Greatest Happiness Principle (Principle of Utility):

Utility states that pleasure is produced through actions, actions are to maximize happiness (pleasure) and minimize pain.


The doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.


Moral absolutism asserts that there are certain universal moral principles by which all peoples’ actions may be judged.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Pleasures:

There are higher and lower pleasures

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