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Thread: On Argument

  1. #11
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    To point, the misconception inherent within an argument based on describing characteristics of an intangible entity - such that a god/s is - are inherently ascribing to a fallacy of origin, wherein the centerpiece of an argument is bedrocked on perceptual intimacy, rather than objective empiricism.

    ...

    Let's not forget who we really are.
    Night. I always enjoy reading what you write, but I'll be damned if I understand half of it.

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  2. #12
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Thank you, reason.

    Your critique is well-appraised.

    What I meant was that any supernatural concept (theistic or otherwise...) is a matter of personal opinion and not scientific consistency.

    Central to this point is the misconception that either field is necessarily offensive to the other. Intolerance is often conveyed by those who view the other as competitive to their intimate system of thought.

    This belief confuses key tenets that divide faith from theory.

  3. #13
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    All things are justifiable.

    Truth and fiction are varying components of the same intellectual sobriquet. A disguise from whom? From all things, you see (and certainly all that we do not...).

    So, where does this leave us?

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    There is an assumption which is held in regard to argument which I want to discuss, one which is held by almost everyone who argues about anything, from the street to courtroom, classroom to lecturehall, playground to workplace, and everywhere else inbetween. The assumption is held by people of almost every philosophical stripe, from empiricists to intellectualists, objectivists to subjectivists, dogmatists to relativists. This assumption even helps to form the context in which arguments take place, setting expectations of what an argument should achieve and providing standards by which we recognise failure. However, the assumption is also mistaken.

    The assumption which I am talking about can be described as follows:

    The premises of a good argument provide some reason, support or justification to believe that the argument's conclusion is true.

    It is my intent to explain here that according to this definition of a what contitutes a good argument, there are no good arguments. This result is a simple consequence of three commonly understood facts. 1) Invalid arguments provide no justification for their conclusion, 2) Question begging argument provide no justification for their conclusion, and 3) Every valid argument is a question begging argument. In other words, there are no good arguments: the premises of an argument can never provide any reason, support, or justification for the argument's conclusion.

    It is commonly noted that a circular argument, though formally valid, does not provide any justification for its conclusion. Instead of 'circular arguments', I think that they are better described as 'equative arguments', because in such an argument the premises and conclusion say the same thing in different ways i.e. the premises and conclusion are equal, and so make an equative argument. In this way we can make a distinction between an equative argument and a deductive argument, where the premises and conclusion are not equal (conventionally, equative arguments form a subset of deductive arguments, but here I am treating them seperately). That said, a deductive argument is not defined solely by the inequality of its premises and conclusion, since the conclusion is also expected to follow validly from the premises i.e. if the premises are true then so must be the conclusion.

    There seems to be a general recognition that equative arguments provide no justification for thier conclusion, but there is also a common assumption that deductive arguments can achieve where equative arguments fail. This is mistaken; what makes an argument equative is that both the premises and conclusion share the same logical content i.e. they both have exactly the same logical consequences, and a deductive argument can be distinguished by the fact that the logical content of the conclusion is a proper subset of the logical content of the premises i.e. everything implied by the conclusion is also implied by the premises, but not vice versa. In other words, if you were to lop off the extra logical content of the premises (which is unecessary for the inference) then you would end up with a plain old equative argument.

    Think about it like this. If you put some apples into an empty basket then do not expect to pull anything out of that basket except some or all of the apples which you put in. That is how valid arguments work, you put the premises in the basket and then pull nothing out except some or all of the premises which you put in--nothing new is introduced. The trickery to logic is that what we pull out of the basket often looks superficially different to what we put in, but that is just a result of the transformational rules of language, and if we have reasoned correctly then what we put into the basket will provide no justification for what we pull out. In fact, we will just discover new ways to repeat, either wholly or partially, the premises which we started with.

    I'm done now, carry on.
    Actually, what you're saying seems to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post .

    The only thing that I'd point out is that your third premise, #3, is philosophically contested area. It is not decided yet whether begging the question is even a legitimate fallacy (since as you say, the technical definition would have to encompass all valid argument forms), and even when it's considered to be a fallacy, there are conditions set in order to distinguish normal valid arguments from arguments that beg the question in a fallacious manner (such as saying that begging the question only occurs when the conclusion is explicitly stated in one of the premises, etc...). It has also been suggested that an argument that begs the question in the fallacious sense has more to do with the rhetorical intent of the arguer, or that its fallaciousness depends on which arguer has the burden of proof in a given situation.

    I just thought I'd point that out since, in your OP, the premise that all valid arguments beg the question is essential to your conclusion that there are no good arguments (ones that provide good reason or justification for their conclusions).
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  5. #15
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    Orangey,

    There is an mistake in my third premise: 'every valid is a question begging argument'. The fallacy of petitio principii is a fallacy of intent on the part of the arguer, not the form itself. Therefore, an argument can be valid without begging the question if the argument is not intended to provision some reason or justification for its conclusion, since no question will have been begged. For example, I think that the argument which I present here is a valid argument, but I am not begging the question since I do not intend for the premises to provide any justification for the conclusion.

    In regard to the fallacy of petitio principii (aka. begging the question). Some philosophers may have attempted to redefine petitio principii, but that does not concern me. If they redefine the words which I am using then I will simply adopt new words, since the problem we are discussing does not go away even when we change the meaning of the terms used to make it difficult to discuss.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    Think about it like this. If you put some apples into an empty basket then do not expect to pull anything out of that basket except some or all of the apples which you put in. That is how valid arguments work, you put the premises in the basket and then pull nothing out except some or all of the premises which you put in--nothing new is introduced. The trickery to logic is that what we pull out of the basket often looks superficially different to what we put in, but that is just a result of the transformational rules of language, and if we have reasoned correctly then what we put into the basket will provide no justification for what we pull out. In fact, we will just discover new ways to repeat, either wholly or partially, the premises which we started with.
    In many ways this is true. But the new way we repeat the premises can be quite profound. Consider...the results of mathematics, and in particular consider algorithms and discrete mathematics.

    As an example of this (graph theory in particular) take the Konigsberg's Bridge Problem

    Logic is applied to this situation, restating (perhaps "selecting") the set of premises needed to make the situation clear.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #17
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    Reason,

    So what you're saying is that (1) all valid argument forms are syntactically circular because the conclusion is "contained" within the premises, (2) no circular argument provides justification for its conclusion, and (3) therefore any valid argument presented with the intent of providing justification for the conclusion begs the question. What if we said that not all circular arguments provide no justification for their conclusions? That being syntactically circular doesn't guarantee that the conclusion is not justified?
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    In many ways this is true. But the new way we repeat the premises can be quite profound. Consider...the results of mathematics, and in particular consider algorithms and discrete mathematics.
    Oh, I agree. In fact, the very subject of this thread would be an example. There are times when exploration of our ideas and their consequences can lead to novel discoveries, even when those ideas are commonly understood and believed.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    What if we said that not all circular arguments provide no justification for their conclusions? That being syntactically circular doesn't guarantee that the conclusion is not justified?
    Then I would say that you have redefined what it would mean to justify the conclusion of an argument. There is nothing wrong with that, but we would not longer be discussing the same thing. Indeed, it would be just as correct to say that a the premises of a valid argument cannot justify the conclusion, but there is another kind of argument we might consider, which is a little similar to justification, but can be circular. Now I do not really understand what this would achieve or why you would want to take that path, but you could.

    In other words, it's like saying, 'okay, you're right, any argument which attempts to justify its conclusion will be either invalid or question begging, therefore justification is impossible. But, if we simply redefine justification so that now invalid arguments can justify their conclusion, then we can argue justificationally afterall!' That response would confuse me somewhat, since I would find myself wondering just what it was my correspondent was motivated by, even though there wouldn't be any logical error.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    Reason,

    So what you're saying is that (1) all valid argument forms are syntactically circular because the conclusion is "contained" within the premises, (2) no circular argument provides justification for its conclusion, and (3) therefore any valid argument presented with the intent of providing justification for the conclusion begs the question. What if we said that not all circular arguments provide no justification for their conclusions? That being syntactically circular doesn't guarantee that the conclusion is not justified?
    This is a part of argumentation that has often confused me. Where does one draw the distinction?

    Consider the basic form:
    Premise 1:A
    Premise 2:A->B
    --------
    Conclusion:B

    However, if not B, then at least one of either Premise 1 or Premise 2 is false. So it seems to me, among rationally thinking people, only those who would believe the Conclusion would also believe both Premise 1 and Premise 2.

    We've gone through the exercise of trying to argue logically many times on this forum, itself. However, over-and-over again, we find logical people disagreeing both on conclusion and the premises that are used. It is only logical.

    The only real hope we have is in finding premises that are agreed upon by all parties, and that is often futile.

    Quote Originally Posted by reason View Post
    Oh, I agree. In fact, the very subject of this thread would be an example. There are times when exploration of our ideas and their consequences can lead to novel discoveries, even when those ideas are commonly understood and believed.
    Have you been able to apply this form of reasoning to anything beyond mathematics, philosophical logic, and the hard sciences? I find my lack of success frustrating.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

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