Thursday, August 29, 2013

[PHI 1000] Paradigm Case Arguments

Philosophers sometimes use a strategy of argumentation known as the "Paradigm Case Argument" (PCA). The PCA looks roughly like this:
  1. X is a paradigm case of Y.
  2. Therefore, Y.
For example:
Since the meaning of 'of his own free-will' can be taught by reference to such paradigm cases as that in which a man, under no social pressures, marries the girl he wants to marry (how else could it be taught?): it cannot be right, on any grounds whatsoever, to say that no one ever acts of his own free will (Flew, 1956, "Philosophy and Language," in Essays in Conceptual Analysis. London, p. 19).
More explicitly:
  1. The act of getting married is a paradigm case of acting of one’s own free will.
  2. Therefore, one can act of one’s own free will.
Is PCA a compelling argumentative strategy? Suppose that you are a skeptic about free will. Would this paradigm-case argument for free will persuade you? If so, why? If not, why not?

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