Nature of Philosophy
In some ways, the nature of philosophy is complex. There are a number of difficult questions which philosophy considers, and which it is applied to in order to answer. In other ways, philosophy is fairly straightforward. It serves to provide a basis for a way of life most suited for the individual who chooses to apply it. As such, different people have different philosophies regarding different facets of life. The nature of philosophy, then, is that of providing a basic foundation from which to approach different situations which one might encounter. In some regards philosophy's nature is amenable, at least in the respect that it is largely applicable to a variety circumstances. However, for the most part philosophy is rigid, since its general principles may impact a variety of situations -- yet those principles themselves do not change.
Ultimately, however, the nature of philosophy is that it is concerned with the truth. Philosophy is a toeing of a line of the sands of eternity; it is man's ambition to draw a conclusion as something immutable and to use that to judge everything one comes across by it. In a less abstract sense, then, it is the nature of philosophy to determine what something actually is, and to use that truth to determine other truths. In this regard the nature of philosophy is much like the nature of science. The only true distinction between these two disciplines is that science is generally used for physical or observable phenomena, whereas philosophy is used for more metaphysical or less tangible phenomena. The key similarity is that they both utilize the same approaches....
Science is widely based on empirical evidence. One may determine a hypothesis, for example, but only by proving such a hypothesis with the demonstration of empirical evidence is something then taken for fact. This same methodology is used for philosophy, although the forms of empirical evidence which are used for science are replaced by whatever tenet of philosophy that one considers the truth.
An excellent example of how the nature of philosophy is primarily concerned with the truth is found in the consequentialism. Consequentialist theory is a branch of philosophy known as ethics. Ethics is the realm of philosophy which is largely concerned with determining what right and wrong is, and what sorts of behavior are assigned to judgments of right and wrong. The major tenet of consequentialist theory that serves as its version of empirical evidence -- the operating principle of this theory -- is the consequences of an action. Consequentialists believe that no action in and of itself alone is either ethical or unethical, right or wrong. Instead, proponents of this philosophy believe that only the consequences of an action determine whether or not it is ethically defensible (Alexander and Moore, 2007). Thus, if the murder of one person enables the entirety of humanity to live whereas…
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