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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 12:05   #1
JonnyBGood
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Logical Fallacies

Recently we've seen a fair few of these cropping up on GD so I thought it'd be a nice time for us to revisit the wonderful world of fallacious arguments.

Probably the most widespread fallacies are versions of ad hominem and ad verecundiam. These are, respectively, arguments that statement X is false because the person who stated it is biased and that statement X is true because person X stated it. An example for the first would be "oh you're just saying it's a good idea to invest in that company because you own it". The premise-proposition-conclusion chain here goes thusly: premise: you own the company, proposition: because you own the company you want it to succeed, conclusion: because you want the company to succeed all statements from you praising, promoting or otherwise leading to an improvement of the value of the company are false. Here we can clearly see that while the premise is obvious, the proposition most likely correct, the conclusion is a logical fallacy because you're not actually saying anything about the statement. Remember using ad hominem and ad verecundiam doesn't mean the viewpoints being supported through the use of these fallacies are necessarily wrong, it just means the person using them is an idiot.

Another fallacy that frequently crops up is that of the false dichotomy. This is derived from simple two-valued logic systems, the statement that x is either p or not(p). The problem with the fallacy is that the choice you offer is between p and a subset of not(p). So not all the options are covered. This fallacy has cropped up recently in politics rather famously where we've all heard the statement that "you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists". This statement denies the existence of a "neutral" position. An interesting consequence of this argument being refuted has been the introduction of the No True Scotsman fallacy. The NTS fallacy, in its original form is
Quote:
Macdougal: You know, laddie, no Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.
You: Is that so? I seem to recall my cousin Angus puts sugar in his porridge.
Macdougal: Ah... but no true Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.
This is a fallacy because you are redefining A until it conforms to B. So you move from a statement, there is not a scotsman who puts sugar in his porridge, which is an interesting sociological observation on the state of scottish dietary habits to a truism, there is not a true scotsman, where true scotsman means someone who is scottish and does not use sugar on their porridge, who uses sugar on there porridge. This has been used by defenders of the false dichotomy I mentioned above as the position "with the terrorists" is redefined to mean "people not actively supporting the war on terrorism" and the position "with us" is redefined to mean "people not actively supporting the terrorists". This is a failure in properly defining your premises before beginning your argument.

Then we have the naturalistic fallacy, which is a form of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy infers "ought" from "is". So "there exists a state of affairs such that x" becomes "there should be a state of affairs such that x". This is obviously gibberish because the state of affairs such that x could be the existence of slavery or the criminalisation of homosexuality, or anything you'd like to propose as "not a good thing".

I might add more later but there are all these people milling around me and I've just realised I'm in work. Remember the existence of a fallacy doesn't disprove the argument, but if people run out of arguments to offer which don't contain fallacies then their argument should not be accepted.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 12:07   #2
Marilyn Manson
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Exclamation Re: Logical Fallacies

I think you basically wanted to mark this for the attention of Travler but were too polite to do so.

(The concept of a polite Irishman LOL)
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 12:18   #3
JonnyBGood
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Re: Logical Fallacies

I'm sure many people could either use an introduction or a refresher course.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 12:21   #4
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Is this not taking the fun out of illogical statements a bit? I mean it´s obviously true, because you´ve said it, but using it - though wrong - can be great amusement.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 13:10   #5
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
"oh you're just saying it's a good idea to invest in that company because you own it". The premise-proposition-conclusion chain here goes thusly: premise: you own the company, proposition: because you own the company you want it to succeed, conclusion: because you want the company to succeed all statements from you praising, promoting or otherwise leading to an improvement of the value of the company are false. Here we can clearly see that while the premise is obvious, the proposition most likely correct, the conclusion is a logical fallacy because you're not actually saying anything about the statement.
Sure, it may be a logical fallacy in a neutral, fact-driven, all statements taking without context-world where every statement is built up from agreed-upon facts, but that doesn't fit very well with the reality. In reality, sources do matter, because it's a very, very easy way of discerning credibility. With the amount of information and stuff happening you're always forced to take things at facevalue, one way or another, and as such, a person praising a company being their CEO is valid information that will affect their credibility.

I mean, if you were going to fact-check every bloody detail of everything ever you'd be pretty busy. Instead you take things at face-value, and a source not being credible is valuable information.

Along the same logic if a raging retard continuesly shows himself incapable of understanding reason, shows himself to be misinformed and naive on a variety of subjects you do know, you're probably going to be pretty fast at dismissing anything he says on subjects you don't know also. It may not be logically valid, but it's bloody usefull and saves time.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 13:12   #6
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Re: Logical Fallacies

only an Irishman would say stupid things about logic
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 13:19   #7
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyfe
raging retard
I wonder if he searches for threads bearing his name =(
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 13:32   #8
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Then we have the naturalistic fallacy, which is a form of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy infers "ought" from "is". So "there exists a state of affairs such that x" becomes "there should be a state of affairs such that x". This is obviously gibberish because the state of affairs such that x could be the existence of slavery or the criminalisation of homosexuality, or anything you'd like to propose as "not a good thing".
According to wikipedia (hoho) you have 'misunderstood' both Hume and Moore, and missed the 'deep' consequences that the is-ought problem poses.
Frankly, I think the is-ought problem only serves to highlight how boring and meaningless philisophical meandering becomes.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 13:38   #9
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
According to wikipedia (hoho) you have 'misunderstood' both Hume and Moore, and missed the 'deep' consequences that the is-ought problem poses.
Frankly, I think the is-ought problem only serves to highlight how boring and meaningless philisophical meandering becomes.
jonny, am i allowed to use an ad hominem in this thread?
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 14:19   #10
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyfe
Sure, it may be a logical fallacy in a neutral, fact-driven, all statements taking without context-world where every statement is built up from agreed-upon facts, but that doesn't fit very well with the reality. In reality, sources do matter, because it's a very, very easy way of discerning credibility. With the amount of information and stuff happening you're always forced to take things at facevalue, one way or another, and as such, a person praising a company being their CEO is valid information that will affect their credibility.
Or you can suspend definite judgement until further information becomes available.

Quote:
Along the same logic if a raging retard continuesly shows himself incapable of understanding reason, shows himself to be misinformed and naive on a variety of subjects you do know, you're probably going to be pretty fast at dismissing anything he says on subjects you don't know also. It may not be logically valid, but it's bloody usefull and saves time.
I think you missed the point. Dismissing an argument is not the same as refuting it. What you should ask for is proof when someone makes a positive assertion. If he says invest, ask for proof. If his proof is valid invest. If someone says saddam hussein is an alien, ask for proof.

Quote:
According to wikipedia (hoho) you have 'misunderstood' both Hume and Moore, and missed the 'deep' consequences that the is-ought problem poses.
Frankly, I think the is-ought problem only serves to highlight how boring and meaningless philisophical meandering becomes.
Actually if you read my very last sentence in that thread, specifically the last clause, it's obvious I didn't and I just didn't want to meander into a very silly debate over morality. The fact that morality is a human construct doesn't actually mean anything. What else would you (not specifically you) expect it to be constructed by? The three bears?
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 14:22   #11
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by lokken
only an Irishman would say stupid things about logic
Surely, only a true Irishman would!
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 14:32   #12
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leshy
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Then surely all true Irishmen should!
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 15:36   #13
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Or you can suspend definite judgement until further information becomes available.
Well, I'd say the difference between dismissing an argument and refusing to accept it until further information becomes available is academic. It entails the same; not accepting the proposition.
Quote:
I think you missed the point. Dismissing an argument is not the same as refuting it. What you should ask for is proof when someone makes a positive assertion. If he says invest, ask for proof. If his proof is valid invest. If someone says saddam hussein is an alien, ask for proof.
Sure, but you're still guilty of stupidifying your argumentation. Add a few qualifiers, such as 'most likely' into your whole CEO analogy (ie; he is most likely sprouting bollocks, trying to pump his own stock) it suddenly looks a lot less stupid, and is much closer to the logic people would actually use... and 'most likely' is certainly good enough for me on most issues.

Refuting arguments is all nice and splendid, but it takes a lot of bloody effort, and the supply of idiots to make stupid statements is basically unlimited (and they all seem to be employed as PR-people for some reason)... and while simply dismissing stupid arguments isn't going to convince others, it's working great for me =)
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:07   #14
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyfe
Well, I'd say the difference between dismissing an argument and refusing to accept it until further information becomes available is academic. It entails the same; not accepting the proposition.
No, one of them continues itself in a search for further knowledge, the other does not.

Quote:
Sure, but you're still guilty of stupidifying your argumentation. Add a few qualifiers, such as 'most likely' into your whole CEO analogy (ie; he is most likely sprouting bollocks, trying to pump his own stock) it suddenly looks a lot less stupid, and is much closer to the logic people would actually use... and 'most likely' is certainly good enough for me on most issues.
He is not most likely sprouting bollocks. He is either sprouting bollocks or he is not. Whether he is or is not depends on the facts of the matter, which you should investigate before acting upon. To be honest there are far less correlated ad hominems put forward than the one I stated, "what would he know, he's just a swiss clerk" or "you would say that, what with being in the stonemasons" are both sillier versions.

Quote:
Refuting arguments is all nice and splendid, but it takes a lot of bloody effort, and the supply of idiots to make stupid statements is basically unlimited (and they all seem to be employed as PR-people for some reason)... and while simply dismissing stupid arguments isn't going to convince others, it's working great for me =)
It doesn't really take that much effort. Logic is quite quick really. Sometimes the search for facts is extensive but usually you'll find when it is someone will have gone to the effort and published a nice book on it for you to read. It's not a stupid argument until you prove it's wrong is analogous to he's not guilty until you prove he did it.


You really seem to be saying I can muddle through without being rational sometimes. While this is doubtlessly true, it's not exactly helpful as if everyone had this attitude we'd probably still be sitting in trees hurling faeces at each other.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:18   #15
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Actually if you read my very last sentence in that thread, specifically the last clause, it's obvious I didn't and I just didn't want to meander into a very silly debate over morality. The fact that morality is a human construct doesn't actually mean anything. What else would you (not specifically you) expect it to be constructed by? The three bears?
I just don't see the point of your last fallacy beyond 'a silly debate over morality'. The ought-is fallacy seems nothing more than a mildly interesting Humesian oh-no-nothing-we-do-has-any-meaning statement. The naturalistic fallacy, of course, is essentially just a discussion of semantics, unless I've missed something.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:19   #16
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
You really seem to be saying I can muddle through without being rational sometimes. While this is doubtlessly true, it's not exactly helpful as if everyone had this attitude we'd probably still be sitting in trees hurling faeces at each other.
Are you implying that history reveals an overwhelming human tendency towards 'rational' behaviour?

EDIT:

I think my beef is really with our definition of 'rationality'. How do we (you) define it? Are moral decisions rational? Is love rational? To me, your logic as applied to ordinary situations seems to imply some kind of disconnected-ness that doesn't exist in actuality.
And aren't you pretty close to the naturalistic fallacy yourself in assuming all rational behaviour to be 'good' or correct?

RE-EDIT:

'A logical argument is sometimes described as rational if it is logically valid. However, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes "uncertain but sensible" arguments based on probability, expectation, personal experience and the like, whereas logic deals principally with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them. For example, ad hominem arguments are logically unsound, but in many cases they may be rational.'

Do you agree?
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Last edited by Boogster; 10 Jul 2006 at 16:39.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:20   #17
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
I just don't see the point of your last fallacy beyond 'a silly debate over morality'. The ought-is fallacy seems nothing more than a mildly interesting Humesian oh-no-nothing-we-do-has-any-meaning statement. The naturalistic fallacy, of course, is essentially just a discussion of semantics, unless I've missed something.
The argument is against tradition for tradition's sake.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:23   #18
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
Are you implying that history reveals an overwhelming human tendency towards 'rational' behaviour?
No, I'm saying most of the good bits do.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 16:51   #19
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
No, one of them continues itself in a search for further knowledge, the other does not.
Yes, in purely academical world it does. In reality, it does not in the slightest affect how I perceive future arguments because I really haven't made up an opinion in either case, it does not matter for my current opinions because I refused to accept the argument in both cases. Wether I'm actively myself am going to search for documentation/facts are purely governed by my own laziness / interest on the subject.. and I don't think I'm very unique in this.
Quote:
He is not most likely sprouting bollocks. He is either sprouting bollocks or he is not. Whether he is or is not depends on the facts of the matter, which you should investigate before acting upon.
Ah, so something in your mind is either flagged as absolutely 100% certainly true, or 'not verified yet'. Must be a bitch watching the news? 'Well, I don't know wether this footage is faked and wether they paid these eye-witnesses, so I must choose not to believe until it's verified'.

I mean, you know as well as I do, that there is no such thing as certain. There's 'likely', 'really likely', and 'really, really, really likely'. If you want to use the latter exclusivly and change the others with 'not determined yet', feel free, but to me that makes you sound like someone who badly needs a therapist.
Quote:
You really seem to be saying I can muddle through without being rational sometimes. While this is doubtlessly true, it's not exactly helpful as if everyone had this attitude we'd probably still be sitting in trees hurling faeces at each other.
No, I'm saying you can muddle through without being insane. Probabilities do have a place in logic, and they certainly belong in discussions. Mind you, I'm not trying to argue that being precise about what you're really saying, and that being aware of the difference between refuting and dismissing really isn't needed. I'm just saying both still have their place.

.. besides, fuzzy math really is quite fun.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 18:34   #20
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Re: Logical Fallacies

And the award for "Most Boring Thread Ever" goes to........
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 18:55   #21
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyBGood
Then we have the naturalistic fallacy, which is a form of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy infers "ought" from "is". So "there exists a state of affairs such that x" becomes "there should be a state of affairs such that x". This is obviously gibberish because the state of affairs such that x could be the existence of slavery or the criminalisation of homosexuality, or anything you'd like to propose as "not a good thing"./
The naturalistic 'fallacy' is bullshit (like the intentional 'fallacy' and the phenomenological 'fallacy'). You cant just start with your own baseless ideological position and then claim that anyone who disagrees is automatically committing a logical fallacy, otherwise I could invent the Atheist fallacy (the fallacious belief that emprical evidence should have greater weighting than scripture) and the Aryan fallacy (giving credence to arguments made my people who do not come from the master race).

The naturalist fallacy relies on a supernatural view of ethics where terms like 'Good' (capital letter!) are thought to be denote some kind of spooky intrinsic 'property 'of objects/actions rather than simply being words in the English language, like the rest of our adjectives.

Last edited by Nodrog; 10 Jul 2006 at 19:01.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 19:02   #22
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodrog
The naturalistic 'fallacy' is bullshit (like the intentional 'fallacy' and the phenomenological 'fallacy'). You cant just start with your own baseless ideological position and then claim that anyone who disagrees is automatically committing a logical fallacy, otherwise I could invent the Atheist fallacy (the fallacious belief that emprical evidence should have greater weighting than scripture) and the Aryan fallacy (giving credence to arguments made my people who do not come from the master race).

The naturalist fallacy relies on a supernatural view of ethics where terms like 'Good' (capital letter!) are thought to be denote some kind of spooky intrinsic 'property 'of objects/actions rather than simply being words in the English language, like the rest of our adjectives.
what?


surely the ought/is debate by its very nature goes against the idea of objective morality?
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 19:08   #23
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyfe
Yes, in purely academical world it does. In reality, it does not in the slightest affect how I perceive future arguments because I really haven't made up an opinion in either case, it does not matter for my current opinions because I refused to accept the argument in both cases. Wether I'm actively myself am going to search for documentation/facts are purely governed by my own laziness / interest on the subject.. and I don't think I'm very unique in this.
Well then, take my argument as an encouragement to go out and learn more whenever you can.

Quote:
Ah, so something in your mind is either flagged as absolutely 100% certainly true, or 'not verified yet'. Must be a bitch watching the news? 'Well, I don't know wether this footage is faked and wether they paid these eye-witnesses, so I must choose not to believe until it's verified'.
No, because the assertion is differing from the norm. I've really started arguing for falsification here which is rather marvellous as I didn't really mean to but it's just sort of headed this way. Nobody has ever offered me convincing evidence that all news stories are being falsified. Reports which are published in let's say one paper and no others would not get much in the credibility rating from me and if I felt they were remotely important I'd probably investigate it. So "cat has three kittens" I won't bother investigating further but "cat has three puppies" I probably would.

Quote:
I mean, you know as well as I do, that there is no such thing as certain. There's 'likely', 'really likely', and 'really, really, really likely'. If you want to use the latter exclusivly and change the others with 'not determined yet', feel free, but to me that makes you sound like someone who badly needs a therapist.
I don't really bother considering things as certainities. Things are either true or false (or mu I guess) according to the best of our knowledge. Further theorising is just metaphysical posturing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
I think my beef is really with our definition of 'rationality'. How do we (you) define it? Are moral decisions rational? Is love rational? To me, your logic as applied to ordinary situations seems to imply some kind of disconnected-ness that doesn't exist in actuality.
And aren't you pretty close to the naturalistic fallacy yourself in assuming all rational behaviour to be 'good' or correct?
To the extent that I have a moral outlook it would be the respecting of the independence of other intelligent beings. Rationality merely consists in applying it correctly. Obviously keeping to tradition is a moral outlook but it's nonsensical because you end up picking an arbitrary starting point for "tradition" and sticking to it.

Quote:
'A logical argument is sometimes described as rational if it is logically valid. However, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes "uncertain but sensible" arguments based on probability, expectation, personal experience and the like, whereas logic deals principally with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them. For example, ad hominem arguments are logically unsound, but in many cases they may be rational.'

Do you agree?
Well this is more about the differences between deductive argument and inductive argument, and the extent to which the latter applies. Ad hominem arguments don't prove anything. As this is the point of an argument, ad hominem arguments are pretty shit ones.
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Unread 10 Jul 2006, 19:21   #24
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodrog
The naturalistic 'fallacy' is bullshit (like the intentional 'fallacy' and the phenomenological 'fallacy'). You cant just start with your own baseless ideological position and then claim that anyone who disagrees is automatically committing a logical fallacy, otherwise I could invent the Atheist fallacy (the fallacious belief that emprical evidence should have greater weighting than scripture) and the Aryan fallacy (giving credence to arguments made my people who do not come from the master race).

The naturalist fallacy relies on a supernatural view of ethics where terms like 'Good' (capital letter!) are thought to be denote some kind of spooky intrinsic 'property 'of objects/actions rather than simply being words in the English language, like the rest of our adjectives.
We have, luckily, sorted this out on irc, what a wonderful thing instantaneous communication is! I was referring to the "appeal to nature" more than Moore's "naturalistic fallacy". Apologies for confusion caused everybody, nod and boogster really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
And the award for "Most Boring Thread Ever" goes to........
I worry about posts like this. Do you mean it? Why do you find it boring? Were you aware of all this already? Why did you read a thread entitled logical fallacies if you didn't want to read about basic forms of logical fallacies? I could write about how I worry that my seventeen year old couch isn't going to graduate from school because he spends so much time watching tv. Would that make for a more interesting thread?
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 00:08   #25
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Re: Logical Fallacies

I went back and rethought the whole thing. Still found it boring. When brought up in a thread to refute an argument it is interesting to see the logic/lack of logic pointed out. Dry, esoteric discussions about the construction of arguments doesn't really grab me.

Is there any logical fallacy in assuming that I would be more entertained by a story about your couch (of whatever age). Are these my only choices?
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 03:45   #26
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nodrog
(the fallacious belief that emprical evidence should have greater weighting than scripture) \
Why is that 'fallacious'?

Edit: Nevermind, I get it.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 05:18   #27
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
And the award for "Most Boring Thread Ever" goes to........
To this post I got the following message.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymous
Here's an idea, don't bother reading after the first post! Also, this is a good thread and the subject matter enormously important for those of us who like to discuss/debate things online (or indeed elsewhere).
There seem to be some inconsistencies in this response.

First, I am invited to not read beyond the first post of a thread if I feel that the thread is going to be boring.

There is no logical argument to be made for judging an entire thread by the first post in the thread as it has been my observation that some of the most innane first posts have lead to some very interesting or entertaining threads. I will thus decline this invitation and judge a thread only after I have seen a fair sampling of what it offers. It is the more prudent choice and thus more logical.

Second, there is a flat statement that this is a good thread and as explanation for this judgement it is pointed out that this is an important topic for those who like to discuss/debate things online.

Fair enough. However, my joking criticism of the thread was posted and capable of response and discussion/debate. However, there would seem to be a dichotomy between word and action in the message. While proposing the importance of the topic for those who wish to discuss/debate ideas, an anonymous message is rather a perplexing way to foster discussion/debate.

Wouldn't an individual who values discussion try to engage in discussion of a point of view with which they disagree? Anonymous messages tend to limit debate. So I would suggest that one make up their mind as to which they wish to do: foster or limit.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 06:31   #28
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by dda
To this post I got the following message.



There seem to be some inconsistencies in this response.

First, I am invited to not read beyond the first post of a thread if I feel that the thread is going to be boring.

There is no logical argument to be made for judging an entire thread by the first post in the thread as it has been my observation that some of the most innane first posts have lead to some very interesting or entertaining threads. I will thus decline this invitation and judge a thread only after I have seen a fair sampling of what it offers. It is the more prudent choice and thus more logical.

Second, there is a flat statement that this is a good thread and as explanation for this judgement it is pointed out that this is an important topic for those who like to discuss/debate things online.

Fair enough. However, my joking criticism of the thread was posted and capable of response and discussion/debate. However, there would seem to be a dichotomy between word and action in the message. While proposing the importance of the topic for those who wish to discuss/debate ideas, an anonymous message is rather a perplexing way to foster discussion/debate.

Wouldn't an individual who values discussion try to engage in discussion of a point of view with which they disagree? Anonymous messages tend to limit debate. So I would suggest that one make up their mind as to which they wish to do: foster or limit.
I think that might be a bit of British sarcasm. I think it is saying you should read beyond the first post. I don't know for sure however, I usually just smile and nod and pretend I understand.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 07:11   #29
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Re: Logical Fallacies

I disagree with your definition of ad hominem unless it was meant to be sarcasm. Here is a definition I am in agreement with.

Argumentum ad hominem:
Argumentum ad hominem literally means "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.

The first is the abusive form. If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem. For example:

"You claim that atheists can be moral -- yet I happen to know that you abandoned your wife and children."
This is a fallacy because the truth of an assertion doesn't depend on the virtues of the person asserting it. A less blatant argumentum ad hominem is to reject a proposition based on the fact that it was also asserted by some other easily criticized person. For example:

"Therefore we should close down the church? Hitler and Stalin would have agreed with you."
A second form of argumentum ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to accept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular circumstances. For example:

"Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to kill animals for food. I hope you won't argue otherwise, given that you're quite happy to wear leather shoes."
This is known as circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. The fallacy can also be used as an excuse to reject a particular conclusion. For example:

"Of course you'd argue that positive discrimination is a bad thing. You're white."
This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem, when you allege that someone is rationalizing a conclusion for selfish reasons, is also known as "poisoning the well."

It's not always invalid to refer to the circumstances of an individual who is making a claim. If someone is a known perjurer or liar, that fact will reduce their credibility as a witness. It won't, however, prove that their testimony is false in this case. It also won't alter the soundness of any logical arguments they may make.

Argumentum ad verecundiam:
The Appeal to Authority uses admiration of a famous person to try and win support for an assertion. For example:

"Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God."
This line of argument isn't always completely bogus when used in an inductive argument; for example, it may be relevant to refer to a widely-regarded authority in a particular field, if you're discussing that subject. For example, we can distinguish quite clearly between:

"Hawking has concluded that black holes give off radiation"
and

"Penrose has concluded that it is impossible to build an intelligent computer"
Hawking is a physicist, and so we can reasonably expect his opinions on black hole radiation to be informed. Penrose is a mathematician, so it is questionable whether he is well-qualified to speak on the subject of machine intelligence.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 09:39   #30
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Re: Logical Fallacies

If you're going to state you're disagreeing with my post could you at least actually disagree with it at some point during your post instead of just mentioning different examples? The point concerning logical fallacies is that they don't disprove anything, not that sometimes the conclusions they lead to are true. Also the trans-planckian problem.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 16:08   #31
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travler
I disagree with your definition of ad hominem unless it was meant to be sarcasm. Here is a definition I am in agreement with.

Argumentum ad hominem:
Argumentum ad hominem literally means "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.

The first is the abusive form. If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem. For example:

"You claim that atheists can be moral -- yet I happen to know that you abandoned your wife and children."
This is a fallacy because the truth of an assertion doesn't depend on the virtues of the person asserting it. A less blatant argumentum ad hominem is to reject a proposition based on the fact that it was also asserted by some other easily criticized person. For example:

"Therefore we should close down the church? Hitler and Stalin would have agreed with you."
A second form of argumentum ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to accept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular circumstances. For example:

"Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to kill animals for food. I hope you won't argue otherwise, given that you're quite happy to wear leather shoes."
This is known as circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. The fallacy can also be used as an excuse to reject a particular conclusion. For example:

"Of course you'd argue that positive discrimination is a bad thing. You're white."
This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem, when you allege that someone is rationalizing a conclusion for selfish reasons, is also known as "poisoning the well."

It's not always invalid to refer to the circumstances of an individual who is making a claim. If someone is a known perjurer or liar, that fact will reduce their credibility as a witness. It won't, however, prove that their testimony is false in this case. It also won't alter the soundness of any logical arguments they may make.

Argumentum ad verecundiam:
The Appeal to Authority uses admiration of a famous person to try and win support for an assertion. For example:

"Isaac Newton was a genius and he believed in God."
This line of argument isn't always completely bogus when used in an inductive argument; for example, it may be relevant to refer to a widely-regarded authority in a particular field, if you're discussing that subject. For example, we can distinguish quite clearly between:

"Hawking has concluded that black holes give off radiation"
and

"Penrose has concluded that it is impossible to build an intelligent computer"
Hawking is a physicist, and so we can reasonably expect his opinions on black hole radiation to be informed. Penrose is a mathematician, so it is questionable whether he is well-qualified to speak on the subject of machine intelligence.
Let us suppose that, in reference to ends, the never-ending regress in the series of empirical conditions (and it is obvious that this is true) is what first gives rise to our faculties, but our ideas, in other words, abstract from all content of knowledge. As I have elsewhere shown, the objects in space and time (and you Travler, should be careful to observe that this is the case) prove the validity of our ideas, by means of analysis. The Antinomies exist in the Ideal. Our ideas, in natural theology, exclude the possibility of the transcendental unity of apperception; thus, the Antinomies abstract from all content of knowledge. As we have already seen, it remains a mystery why natural causes are a representation of, in view of these considerations, the discipline of pure reason. Whence comes our a priori knowledge, the solution of which involves the relation between our judgements and our sense perceptions? By virtue of pure reason, philosophy, even as this relates to the Ideal of human reason, is what first gives rise to the phenomena. Our experience, in respect of the intelligible character, is a body of demonstrated science, and all of it must be known a priori, but the phenomena have nothing to do with, therefore, our faculties.

You also should be careful to observe that, in reference to ends, our sense perceptions can never, as a whole, furnish a true and demonstrated science, because, like practical reason, they stand in need to a posteriori principles. It is obvious that the employment of the phenomena, indeed, excludes the possibility of the discipline of natural reason; in view of these considerations, our judgements are what first give rise to the discipline of pure reason. By means of analytic unity, pure logic excludes the possibility of, however, the objects in space and time, and our faculties, certainly, can be treated like the intelligible objects in space and time. Practical reason, in other words, occupies part of the sphere of necessity concerning the existence of the noumena in general, yet the manifold can not take account of our speculative judgements. (As is proven in the ontological manuals, the phenomena have lying before them the Ideal.) However, what we have alone been able to show is that our understanding exists in the manifold. Still, our ideas are the mere results of the power of our understanding, a blind but indispensable function of the soul, by means of analysis. This is what chiefly concerns us.
It is not at all certain that our a posteriori knowledge exists in the employment of the noumena, as we have already seen.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 17:25   #32
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by s|k
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Orwell is turning in his grave. (This probably applies to all of us.)
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 18:00   #33
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
Orwell is turning in his grave. (This probably applies to all of us.)
It's either an actual quote from kant or from the random kant generator. I'm rather amused I'm unsure which to be honest though I'm leaning towards the second.
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Unread 11 Jul 2006, 18:03   #34
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Re: Logical Fallacies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogster
Orwell is turning in his grave. (This probably applies to all of us.)
"Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.† Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless"

<3 George

edit:

"Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account."
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