Analysis of Stephen Schneider's Argument on the Subjective Prior
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An Analysis of an Argument
Stephen Schneider states that it is his "strong belief that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to form a subjective prior" concerning the verity of global warming and the human causes that underlie it (Schneider). His argument is admittedly based on "a priori" (before the fact) knowledge, yet he attempts to move from "a priori" knowledge to "a posteriori" (after the fact) by introducing the lightest touches of empirical data and suggesting that much more data will be accumulated in the future to confirm his "a priori" assertion. Schneider's argument is brief but convincing in its own way: he admits that his approach to the question of global warming is subjective but that time should prove it to be objectively true. This paper will analyze Schneider's argument by summarizing it, defining the key terms, assessing the conclusion and showing how it follows from the proposition.
Summarizing Schneider's argument Stephen Schneider is described as a biologist, climatologist at Stanford University and the author of Laboratory Earth. His essay in response to Edge.org's question, "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" is concerned with global warming, which Schneider believes to be true although, he notes, he cannot "prove" it. Schneider uses quotation marks every time he refers to "proof" or "proving" his proposition. His tactic in doing so is to imply that "proof" is sometimes relative/subjective (as