Read the following student essay. For each of the eight paragraphs identify the function of the paragraph in the essay.

Read the following student essay. For each of the eight paragraphs identify the function of the paragraph in the essay.

Read the following student essay. For each of the eight paragraphs identify the function of the paragraph in the essay. Note that explaining the function of a section or paragraph is not the same as summarizing what the author says! You need only state sufficient content to demonstrate that you are not guessing. For example, if a paragraph was providing a thesis statement, one might answer, ‘the function of this paragraph is to state the author’s thesis that X, where X is
what the author intends to demonstrate. For the convenience of the student the paragraphs have been numbered. (Worth 16 marks)
(¶1) This paper will address the basis of the global sceptical argument in which all of what we believe is little more than a vivid dream. In addition, I hope to provide evidence in support of a sufficient non-sceptic counter-argument to this global sceptical hypothesis.
(¶2) The basis of the global sceptical hypothesis is that our senses are systematically being deceived. That is, allof our beliefs and the perceptual evidence supporting these beliefs are systematically false. Nothing actually exists as we perceive it, and may not exist at all.
Knowledge in itself can be defined as a justified true belief. Thus the global sceptical
othesis is essentially saying that all of our beliefs about
the world beyond our own
consciousness are false. So in a simplified sense, all of what we believe is little more than a
vivid dream. In this sense, our minds involuntarily produce successions of
artificial stimuli of
various types. These tend to be based off the memories and experiences of the one
experiencing said dream, but are often exaggerated. Because our brains have the capability of
doing this while we sleep, it is suggested that this may a
lso occur while we are awake. This
possibility of involuntary generation of stimulus during a waking state is the basis of the dream
hypothesis. Any state dependent on these senses should undergo rigorous testing and
examination to determine if it is in fa
ct reality.
(¶3) There are a few ways we could attempt to defeat the global sceptical argument. We will
start with a pragmatic approach. Considering the condition of this dream world distortion in
that nothing is consistent with the real world, we can in
turn say with some certainty that we
have no knowledge of the true nature of the external world. All of our knowledge is based on
this dream world. If this concept holds, then it is likely that we will never experience the true
external world. Again, the c
onditions remind us that we, and all life, are immersed in this
perpetual dream. It is thus arguable that if we cannot perceive the real world, and we cannot
comprehend the impacts we have on the real world, then the real world is no longer our world.
We d
o not actually exist in the real world; only in this dream world. So since we cannot
comprehend the real world to begin with, and there is no way we ever will comprehend it, there
is little sense in concerning ourselves with such a world. It is also arguab
le that, if the way we
perceive the world is indeed distorted in some way, these distortions must be consistent. Doing
what we perceive to be the same things tends to yield what we perceive to be the same result.
The pragmatic argument is that everything a
s we perceive it applies to the world as we perceive
it. To us it seems valid, and functional in practice, so it should suffice. This approach to the
global sceptical argument may be practical, but is not epistemically justified.
(¶4) Let us try to cut do
wn the global sceptical hypothesis with our old friend, Occam’s razor.
The rule of Occam’s razor is to not needlessly multiply explanatory entities. That is, if two
explanations equally justify the same end result, the explanation with fewer explanatory
tities is more likely to be true. So to apply Occam’s razor, let us consider both explanations.
The non

sceptic’s explanation consists of our bodies receiving sensory input, and our minds
processing them into some perception of the external world. The glob
al sceptical argument
insists that, in some way, we are being deceived. The dream hypothesis suggests that reality as
we perceive it is little more than a vivid dream. That the mind of the person posing this
question is systematically weaving some involunt
arily generated stimulus into our conscious
sensory data, or overriding it completely. On top of this, our minds somehow re

interpret this
data in such a way that it somehow still makes sense to us. With that said, the stimuli must be
presented in such a w
ay that does not cause us to think it is completely absurd. It is arguable
that these artificially generated stimuli, and its capacity to significantly influence, disrupt or
completely override our conscious sensory input, from the non

sceptic’s viewpoint,
are the
extraneous explanatory entities.
(¶5) Distortion caused by these extra explanatory entities is based on experience. Experience of
the dream world, by our definition contains extraneous explanatory entities. Thus it falls prey
to Occam’s razor. T
he alternative is that causal input for the dream rests on experience with the
real, non

dream world. This alone would undermine the dream world argument, in that we can
perceive the real world for what it is. In order for a satisfactory illusion to be pre
sent based on
real world data, this sensory data must be presented asynchronously but sensibly applicable to
the agent’s immediate state in the real world. If the dreaming agent’s real world state is in
synch with the illusions, they might as well be seein
g the world for what it really is anyway.
Disrupted or not, we still perceive the same world. Occam’s razor would eliminate the element
of disruption.
(¶6) The sceptic may point out that Occam’s razor may also be an illusion. The usage of
Occam’s razor r
elies on probability. Probability is part of mathematical knowledge, which is
not part of the external world. It is a method we use to interpret and manipulate various
concepts of the external world, but mathematics in itself is a product of our mind. Math
applies through knowledge of logic and language, making it a priori knowledge. Because
Occam’s razor does not ultimately rely on the external world, it cannot be subject to distortion.
Thus, Occam’s razor must exist, and can be applied.
(¶7) The s
ceptic may continue to argue that the notion of a priori knowledge cannot be
justified. It is impossible to deny all knowledge. Such an argument of total scepticism asserts
that we can know nothing at all. If this were the case, the sceptic could not possi
bly make this
assertion. In order to do so, the sceptic would require the knowledge that we know nothing.
This, in itself being knowledge, should not be known to begin with. The argument of total
scepticism clearly undermines itself, and thus cannot be tru
e. Therefore, we must know
something. To find what we actually know, we must take a step back and look again at the
bigger picture. We have been given the sceptical hypothesis under the premise that everything
we perceive and experience is only vivid dream
. If what an agent posing the question is
experiencing is indeed a vivid dream, the mind of said agent must exist in order to perceive this
dream in the first place.
(¶8) At the very least we are now able to assert that we have some form of a mind. I have
shown that Occam’s razor can be used against this dream hypothesis. This tool is comprised of
products of one’s mind, and is thus not directly subject to the dream hypothesis, as they are not
part of the external world.
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