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Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic
Test on Ordinary Language Arguments

Topic: Locke on Human Knowledge

This test is based on the following notes:

Categorical Syllogisms
Reducing the Number of Terms
Translation into Standard Form
Strategies for Uniform Translation
Enthymemes
Sorities
Disjunctive and Hypothetical Syllogisms
The Dilemma

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ORDINARY LANGUAGE ANSWERS


Introduction:  John Locke (1632-1704) is best known in philosophy for his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.  On the basis of that work, Locke is often described as the founder of modern epistemology.  The purpose of Locke's Essay is "to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the degrees of belief, opinion, and assent."  The following arguments (greatly altered) are suggested by Books, I, II, and IV of that work.  Obviously, if a syllogism is invalid, one should not suppose that this is a mistake in Locke's Essay.  Nevertheless, for the purposes of this test assume that Locke urges the following arguments.

Part I (15 points): Translate the following statements into standard-form categorical propositions.

1.  If something is an idea, then it is an object of the understanding.

    

2.  Every idea is about external sensible objects or internal operations of mind.

    

3.  Nothing is both an idea of sensation and an idea of reflection.

    

4.  None but a kind of idea is a sensible perception.

    

5.  Many ideas come into our minds by one sense only.

    

6.  Other ideas convey themselves into the mind by more senses than one.

    

7.  All except ideas of reflection are ideas of sense.

    

 

Part II of Test on Ordinary Language Arguments continues ...


Books I and II of the Essay: Locke's argument begins with the investigation of the the term "idea" signifies.  His first questions raise the problem of the origin of ideas.  Next, Locke inquires into the nature of  human understanding.


Part II (55 points): Test the following standard-form syllogistic arguments for validity by Venn Diagrams and the Syllogistic Fallacies. 

You are asked to evaluate the following argument and indicate whether or not Locke has "proved his case."  If he has not, cite the syllogistic fallacy.  (Obviously, if a syllogism is invalid, one should not interpret this as a mistake in Locke's Essay).

1. No known perceptions are primary notions.

All primary notions are innate ideas..
-----------------------------------------------------------------
No innate ideas are known perceptions..

         

     

2. All objects of the understanding are things in which the mind is employed.

Some things in which the mind is employed are sensations.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Some sensations are objects of the understanding.

         

    

3. All sensations are ideas of external material things.

Some ideas are not sensations.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Some ideas are not ideas of external material things.

         

 

 

4. All perceptions of our mind's operations are reflections.

Some thoughts are not perceptions of our mind's operations.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Some thoughts are not reflections.

         

    

5. All sensations are perceptions of particular sensible objects.

All ideas of sensible qualities are sensations.
------------------------------------------------------------------
All ideas of sensible qualities are perceptions of particular sensible objects.

         

 

 

6. Some perceptions of doubting are ideas of reflection.

All perceptions of doubting are operations of mind.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Some operations of mind are ideas of reflection.

         

 

 

7. All instances of solidity and figure are primary qualities of objects.

No primary qualities of objects are secondary qualities of objects.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
No secondary qualities of objects are instances of solidity and figures.

         

 

 

8. All unknown objects are substances.

All things I know not what are unknown objects.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some things I know not what are substances.

         

 

 

9. All complex ideas are works of the mind.

All relations are works of the mind.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
All relations are complex ideas.

         

 

 

10. No ideas of sensations are ideas of reflection.

Some observations are not ideas of reflection.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Some observations are not ideas of sensations.

         

 

 

Part III of Test on Ordinary Language Arguments continues ...


Book IV: Finally on the basis of the distinctions between the kinds of ideas, Locke attempts to distinguish kinds of knowledge.


Part III (30 points). Put the following arguments into standard form and order categorical syllogisms. Name the mood and figure, and test for validity by Venn Diagrams and the Syllogistic Fallacies.

1. All intuitive knowledge is the mediate perception of ideas because all intuitive knowledge is certain evidence, and all certain evidence is the immediate perception of ideas.

MOOD and FIGURE: 


2. Demonstrative knowledge is never immediately certain, and intuitive knowledge is immediate certainty.  From this, the conclusion is easily drawn.

MOOD and FIGURE: 


3. No perceptions of particular things are evidence which can be doubted, since no sensitive knowledge is evidence that can be doubted.

MOOD and FIGURE: 


Part IV of Test on Ordinary Language Arguments continues ...

IV. Sorities and Application (15 points). 

1.  The following propositions were found written on the end papers of a rare second edition of Locke's Essay (London, 1690).  State explicitly the required argument by means of a chain of enthymematic syllogisms to find out whether the unknown writer has reasoned correctly.

(1) No empirical ideas are innate ideas.
(2) All sensations are empirical ideas.
(3) All perceptions are sensations.
(4) All primary notions are innate ideas.
(5) All innate principles are primary notions.
Therefore, no innate principles are perceptions.


 


2.  Identify the form and discuss the soundness or unsoundness of the following argument from Locke's Essay:

     Syllogism [is] not the great instrument of reason ... if syllogisms must be taken for the only proper instrument and means of knowledge;  it will follow, that before Aristotle there was not one man that did or could know anything by reason; and that since the invention of syllogisms there is not one of ten thousand that doth.
     But God has not been so sparing to men to make them barely two-legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational ...

   

 

End of Test on Ordinary Language Syllogisms


 
Test: Categorical Syllogisms   Test: Symbolic Logic

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09.25.09         Licensed under GFDL


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