The Martian Human-Behavior Specialist Deduction
Imagine that we are visited by a Martian Delegate of the “Human Project Research Institute” He+She (Martians are hermaphrodites) is fascinated by how we, humans, immediately decide what acts of aggression are permissible and which ones are not permissible. The Martian explains:
“We see you, Earthlings, behave very predictably. Let’s say, you witness someone beating a kitty, a turtle, a child, or an old lady (and we are pretty sure you have made no previous acquaintance with any of them!), you immediately know what to do! You have an urge to defend the party at the receiving end. Alternatively, when you see someone beating a growling, slobbering grizzly bear, or anything proportionally much bigger and better equipped, you invert side preferences and side with the one at the delivering end. But alas, there are anomalies. Think, for instance, of the series of movies on the ogre Shrek, or the gigantic gorilla-like creature King Kong, there, the turtle-old lady behavioral preferences shift. Believe us, loads of research funds are being allocated to explain this reversal.”
In short, the Martians have reasoned that there’s a deductive move going on in our heads, with a rather efficient, multipurpose general principle that is deductively applied to each and every one of these particular cases. But they cannot figure out what the principle says, so you have been assigned to help them reconstruct it. Following the argument reconstruction guidelines, and in no more than two-three lines, craft a bullet-proof principle that even a dumb Gliesean could follow.
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