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Can philosophy prove/disprove anything or it is just inconclusive and useless?

One of philosophy's most important uses is in helping us to spot bad questions. It's better to diagnose the defect in a bad question than to try to answer a bad question straight up. Take your question, for instance. Its defect is your false dichotomy : your assumption that any discipline either can prove or disprove things or else is inconclusive and useless. It might be neither of those. Historians of Tudor England can't prove or disprove things, if that means answering historically interesting questions with absolute certainty: their historical evidence doesn't allow them to do that. But of course that doesn't make the history of Tudor England a useless area of inquiry, and if it's not useless then it's not inconclusive and useless. Your false dichotomy aside, philosophy does prove some things, such as the principles of logical reasoning. Less abstractly, philosophy often proves that some theory consisting of specific propositions A, B, C (say) is logically committed to some other proposition...

Logic plays an important role in reasoning because it helps us out to evaluate the soundness of an argument. But logic doesn't help us out in the search of truth. Does philosophy have a method/s to find truth ? Is something like truth possible in philosophy ? I just would like to know because, as a guy who studies such a subject, I tried to answer these questions without success. I lack the necessary resource to answer such a question (a definition of truth). By the way, I'm sorry for the bad English; it's not my native language.

I respectfully disagree with your claim that logic doesn't help in the search for truth. On the contrary, we need logic in order to find out what any proposition P implies -- what other propositions must be true if P is true -- which, in turn, is essential for verifying that P itself is true. This holds as much in science as in philosophy or any other kind of inquiry. You suggest that you need a definition of the word truth before you can answer the question whether philosophy can find truth. But if that's a problem, it isn't a problem just for philosophy: it affects science and any other kind of inquiry just as much as it affects philosophy. You could say to a physicist, "Until I have a definition of truth , how can I know whether physics can find truth?" The only difference here between philosophy and physics is that a philosopher will take your question seriously. I don't think you need a definition of truth -- or at any rate not an interesting definition -- in order to see...

Why is it important to study logic in philosophy? One answer might be that logic teaches you correct reasoning, but that is not something that is unique to philosophy, as it's important in other fields as well (e.g. history, economics, physics, etc.), and those usually do not include any explicit study of logic.

In my experience, philosophy courses take the explicit, self-conscious formulation and evaluation of arguments (i.e., reasoning) more seriously than any other courses of study, with the possible exception of those math courses that emphasize proofs. Moreover, the breadth and depth of philosophical problems exceed those encountered in math. Therein lie the advantages of philosophy courses as compared to, say, math or economics courses. If you pursue philosophy, I think you'll discover that the standards of argumentative rigor expected in philosophy courses surpass -- sometimes by far -- the standards of rigor expected in any courses outside of math, and again they're applied to a much more varied, and often deeper, set of questions.

Has American philosophy lost interest in metaphysics?...thanks, Arnold

No, indeed. I don't know which periods of American philosophy you're comparing when you ask whether American philosophy has lost interest in metaphysics. But if you check the current tables of contents of general American philosophy journals such as Nous , Philosophical Studies , and Philosophy & Phenomenological Research -- to say nothing of more specialized American journals such as The Review of Metaphysics -- you're sure to find articles in metaphysics written by American philosophers. You'll also find plenty of American-authored metaphysics articles in philosophy journals that are headquartered outside America, such as Mind , Analysis , and Erkenntnis . If anything, the interest of American philosophers in metaphysics has increased compared to, say, the middle decades of the twentieth century.

I have been duscussing lately with my friend about thinking. We both agree on what thinking can lead to. But, we disagree on wether or not you should think. Our theory is that thinking will often/most cases lead to unhappiness or depression because most question/problems are for the most part hard to solve. For example, what is the meaning of life? Not an easy question to answer, and the answer you do get may be sad. Therefore, I think not thinking will be good for a person so hin won't get to a stage where hin gets sad. However, my friend see this as fake happiness because you only hide sadness away instead of dealing with the problems. The problems are philosophical and not physical or physiological. So the question is, should people asks "why" questions more often and seek answers to find true happiness? Or is not thinking at all about philosophically questions just fine?

I belong firmly to the camp that advocates more thinking rather than less, especially when the issue is philosophical. Take your sample question: What is the meaning of life? I would answer it this way: In the sense in which the question is probably intended, there isn't and couldn't possibly be any such thing as the meaning of life. (See this link for details.) Should that answer make someone sad? I don't think so. When we come to see that the notion of the meaning (i.e., ultimate purpose) of life makes no sense, we can recognize that seeking the meaning of life is a logically misguided quest, like seeking the largest integer. I hope no one feels sad that there's no largest integer. Really it's an empirical question whether thinking about philosophical issues makes people, in general, happier or sadder than they would otherwise be. I don't know the answer to that question, but in my own case I believe that philosophical thinking has greatly contributed to my overall contentment. But even if it...

Should the impossibility of reaching a definite answer for many of the questions that philosophy asks realistically lead one to stop asking , or even considering, these type of questions? Ultimately, is asking a waste of time and energy?

Philosophers are routinely asked these questions, whereas (say) physicists never are. I'm not sure that's fair. If the task of physics is to discover the fundamental laws governing the physical world, then there's no guarantee that physics can accomplish that task. For one thing, there may not be fundamental physical laws; it may be that for every physical law, there's a more basic physical law that implies it, without end. (The alternatives seem to be that some physical laws are not just physically but metaphysically necessary, which seems implausible, or that some physical facts are inexplicable and therefore not explained by physics.) Even if fundamental physical laws do exist, physicists can't reasonably claim to have discovered them given (for example) the ongoing disputes over how to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics. Are physicists therefore wasting their time? Some of the controversies in biology (e.g., abiogenesis; one tree of life or more than one?) seem just as...

One major problem I have with a lot of arguments is that at least one premise relies on intuition to be justified. The problem is that intuition is terribly unreliable and therefore cannot be used to justify a premise. Arguments that rely on intuition seem common in normative ethics from my what I have seem (The utility monster is one such example). I decided to make a thought experiment to tell if the argument relies on intuition that goes like this: You are alien which is born with the intuition that utilitarianism and is self-evident You discover a planet and decide to go visit it to find people living on it. you ask a person about utilitarianism and the person think it is false and use the utility monster argument to back up that assertion. Would you think this argument is sound or even makes only sense or a actual problem with the position you think is self-evident? Utilitarianism can be changed to whatever the position be attacked is and the utility monster into the argument against said...

It's hard to see how any thought experiment could be good for filtering out all intuition-based arguments, for the simple reason that one's reaction to any thought experiment is itself a matter of one's intuitions. In your own thought experiment, I'm supposed to imagine how I'd react to the utility-monster objection if two non-actual conditions held: (1) I'm an alien, and (2) I'm born with the intuition that utilitarianism is self-evident. To be honest, I have no idea how I'd react under those conditions, but the only thing I can consult to answer the question would be my intuitions about the imagined case. Any (finitely long) argument, including any sound argument, will rely on intuitions in the sense that it will contain premises that the argument simply asserts and doesn't defend. That being said, if one's argument depends on controversial premises, then one ought to improve the argument by finding less controversial premises that imply one's conclusion.

how many branches of philosophy are there, and why is language picked apart so meticulosly?

At least 33, to judge from the Areas of Specialization (AOS) listed here: Less facetiously: There's no non-arbitrary way to give a precise answer to your question, just as with the question "How many branches of science are there?" Careful attention to language is essential because, among other things, only when we're careful about language can we tell which philosophical problem (if any) we're trying to solve or which philosophical question (if any) we're trying to answer.

I think of philosophers as people who describe and debate in order to reach defensible positions concerning ethics, truth, etc. But what is uniquely philosophical about such practices? Philosophers identify fallacies, but so do logicians. Philosophers are trained in intellectual movements, but so are historians. As Rorty put it, where is the fach in philosophy? Is philosophy more about excellence in argumentation than content?

I myself would answer "Yes" to your final question. I think you've put your finger on what distinguishes good philosophers from good practitioners of other disciplines: the desire and the ability to attain the highest standards of argumentative attentiveness and rigor regardless of the topic at hand. We can rely on good mathematicians, physicists, and biologists (for example) to be careful and rigorous about math, physics, and biology. But get them outside their scientific specialties, and the results are very much hit-or-miss, with a lot of miss: Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Jerry Coyne, and Bill Nye on the nature and value of philosophy; Sam Harris on free will and on the ability of science to resolve ethical questions; Coyne on free will; Richard Dawkins on free will and on the sorites paradox; Krauss on why there's something rather than nothing. Those are examples of sloppy argumentation that come readily to mind from just my own reading. It's not...