In an answer to a question, Stephen Maitzen wrote, "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."
Am I mis-reading what he wrote? Does it come across to others as "one starts with the desired conclusion and then works backwards to develop premises that would support the desired conclusion." ?
There may be evidence from recent psychological studies (e.g., Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow that indicate that our minds actually do work in this manner.
However, I was under the impression that philosophers generally reason by starting with premises that seem reasonable, and then using logic to determine where those premises lead. His statement perhaps indicates a different path.
Thanks for the chance to clarify my answer to Question 25338 . I can see how my answer might have given the wrong impression. I didn't mean to suggest that, whatever one's desired conclusion, one can always find less controversial premises that imply it. That is, one may fail in the attempt to improve one's argument, no matter how hard one tries. One's conclusion may just not follow from less controversial premises. My point was simply that a logically valid argument from less controversial premises to conclusion X is better than a logically valid argument from more controversial premises to conclusion X. It's something one should strive to find, even though there's no guarantee of success, and failing to find it may be a good reason to reconsider one's conclusion.