Brian Smith

On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

418 posts in this topic

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Are your little green men and blue men bachelors or married? Why not provide me with an example of a white man painted in black face or a black man painted in white face. The fact of the matter is there are no green men or blue men except those who paint their face. If you want to discuss this issue with me further I suggest you read or reread The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy paying particular attention to the section on Logic and Experience.

Also important is the following from the section on Necessity and Contingency

The theory of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy has its roots in two types of error: one epistemological, the other metaphysical. The epistemological error, as I have discussed, is an incorrect view of the nature of concepts. The metaphysical error is: the dichotomy between necessary and contingent facts. What category of error 'little green men" or "blue men" fall into?

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The last sentence should not be in the quote. I'll take it as your question.

Since no one has offered factual evidence that there are such creatures eating lunch on Mars, then it is arbitrary. As far as "little green men" or "blue men" fall into the category of potentiality depending upon what one means by the references to skin color and how it was achieved. As I've pointed out, your own statement acknowledges that possibility. Thus, "blue men" does not fall into either the necessary or contingent fact category because the distinction has been made that painting skin a blue color is a man-made fact, not a metaphysical fact. Man-made facts are facts that could have been otherwise, but once they are facts, they are necessary. If I paint my skin blue, my skin will look blue by the nature of the paint and the color receptors in my eyes.

"Nothing made by man had to be: it was made by choice." (The AR Letter, V2N12, The Obj. Research CD) So I don't see how your point relates to what has been discussed in this thread.

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Rick, you can't just cite whole articles and expect somebody else to work to supply the concrete proof on your behalf. You'll have to do that yourself otherwise you're making an arbitrary assertion that has no cognitive content.

What I can expect is that active participants on this forum are familiar with the article I have sighted. If they were I wouldn't have to talk about little green men.

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Is it true that the form of an argument (or statement), and what the form tells you about how that person came to the conclusions in his argument, is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the conclusion?

Yes and no.

If the premises are true and the argument is valid, the conclusion is necessarily true. If the premises are not true or the argument is invalid, the conclusion can still be true (i.e., corresponding to reality), so pointing out an invalid argument proves nothing about the truth of the conclusion.

There are times, e.g., about the war and the way it is being conducted, when I am very serious and point out something crucial. Other commenters will genuinely agree with what I've said, and in the next breath express their admiration and appreciation for the self-sacrifice of our troops--sometimes stating explicitly that it is the self-sacrifice that makes heroes. This is because they understand that the facts they observe prove my point--and they agree for the wrong reasons.

The error is the false premise that self-sacrifice makes heroes and not any logical fallacy. If the premise were true, the conclusion would necessarily follow.

Do the consequences in reality say anything important about the nature and value of logic?

Maybe, but most of the time, errors are a caused by false premises and not faulty logic. See your own example above.

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Yes and no.

If the premises are true and the argument is valid, the conclusion is necessarily true.

Yes but it can only be stated with this simplicity in deductive cases. In inductive cases it's far more complicated. For example, Dagny left Galt alone in his Valley and did not accept what he had to say, and he could not call her illogical or with faulty premises. She simply had to learn more. But in the state of mind in which she left the valley, her inductive premises were right (according to her experience in life), Galt's argument was valid, but she chose a different conclusion.

I would say this quick and fast rule holds only within the deductive syllogism itself, as Aristotle demonstrated. Outside of that, in ways in which we combine deductive syllogisms, in inductive arguments, the necessity is less strongly defined.

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The claim is that one can rationally discuss whether an idea is true or not without identifying and validating the logic used to connect the ideas to one another and to reality.

That is because it is often possible to prove an idea is true or false by just pointing to reality.

You can prove there is something in a box by opening the box and seeing there is something there. You can show that "You have 6 fingers on your right hand" is false by holding up your hand and counting the fingers. In both cases, a logical argument is not necessary and an illogical argument is irrelevant.

On what basis is it claimed one can continue a discussion about the validity of an idea if the logic used to support that idea is in question?

Like I just said, if the truth or falsity of an idea can be demonstrated by other means, the validity/invalidity of someone's argument is irrelevant.

One would not rationally claim this about the other facts used in the argument, so why is the claim made when it comes to the facts of the logic used in the argument?

But logic isn't a fact. Logic is a method.

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If the premises are true and the argument is valid, the conclusion is necessarily true.
Yes but it can only be stated with this simplicity in deductive cases. In inductive cases it's far more complicated.

Not according to Betsy's Standard of Inductive Certainty. In my theory, you prove an inductive conclusion is valid by reducing the statement or generalization to a statement of identity. If you can show that something is what it is because it is what it is, then it is necessarily true.

Isn't that simple?

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My simple questions about your views can be answered without reference to anything else. I consider bringing up my post a side issue and distraction...
I don't know what issue you are discussing, but I am discussing our disagreement about what properly qualifies a statement as "off topic". To that end, I am trying to discover the source of our disagreement, so that it may be addressed and - hopefully - resolved. This process of discovery requires peeling away and setting aside all the layers of disagreement which result from that fundamental disagreement. That is why there has been a dramatic progression from the wider dispute over what qualifies as personal attacks all the way back to the more fundamental dispute over what qualifies as true etc, and thus back further to the source of that disagreement, ie a dispute over the nature of evidence and logic itself.

Now, since the issue I am pursuing is the identification of the point at which we diverge in our agreement with one another, it is not a "side issue and distraction" to focus on that which is the more fundamental point of disagreement. In fact, it would be a "side issue and distraction" to focus on all those other, derivative disagreements which result from the more fundamental disagreement. All things being equal, after the point of disagreement is discovered and resolved, the rest of the issues should therefore be resolved one way or the other as well.

In other words, far from being off topic and a "distraction", finding and then focusing on the more fundamental point of disagreement is the point here.

In fact, logic is a method of dealing with evidence, but not evidence itself.
And this seems to be the point of our disagreement now. Every principle of logic one uses in a statement or an argument is a fact of reality and, as such, serves as evidence for that conclusion. This is true even when the rest of the evidence consists simply of pointing. Without that evidence, nothing can be identified as true.

On what basis do you claim otherwise?

Very often there are no argument or premises because the conclusion follows directly from sense perception.
Not true. The validation of a conclusion in this sort of example involves an argument, even if it is not made explicitly. Consider the example you provide: You look inside a room and conclude "Jim isn't here." What is the evidence - what facts of reality do you reference - to come to that conclusion?

You see multiple things in the room. Thing here. Thing there, etc. You identify the first thing as a chair. You also identify that it is 'not Jim' (because it cannot be both a chair and Jim.) You then identify the next thing as a bed. And you therefore identify it is not Jim (because it cannot be both a bed and Jim). And so on through the whole room.

So you identify and use as evidence for your conclusion that "Jim isn't here" numerous facts of reality - chair, bed, table, computer, Jim, etc - and - the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, etc.. Without the acceptance and use of all this evidence (implicitly or explicitly), you could not rationally come to the conclusion "Jim isn't here".

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One would not rationally claim this about the other facts used in the argument, so why is the claim made when it comes to the facts of the logic used in the argument?
But logic isn't a fact. Logic is a method.
Actually, if you note, I said the "facts OF logic". Each principle of logic which one applies in an argument is a fact. It is a fact of reality.

If logic is not factual, then on what basis do you claim to use it as a standard for anything in reality?

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In fact, logic is a method of dealing with evidence, but not evidence itself.
And this seems to be the point of our disagreement now. Every principle of logic one uses in a statement or an argument is a fact of reality and, as such, serves as evidence for that conclusion.

I disagree because logic is a concept of method and does not denote a fact of reality. This is similar to the way that "infinity" is a valid concept of method but does not denote something in reality. In fact, "infinity" denotes something that could not possibly exist in reality.

This is true even when the rest of the evidence consists simply of pointing. Without that evidence, nothing can be identified as true.

On what basis do you claim otherwise?

You've got the onus of proof on this one. It's your positive claim.

Very often there are no argument or premises because the conclusion follows directly from sense perception.
Not true. The validation of a conclusion in this sort of example involves an argument, even if it is not made explicitly. Consider the example you provide: You look inside a room and conclude "Jim isn't here." What is the evidence - what facts of reality do you reference - to come to that conclusion?

I look. I don't see Jim. Case closed.

You see multiple things in the room. Thing here. Thing there, etc. You identify the first thing as a chair. You also identify that it is 'not Jim' (because it cannot be both a chair and Jim.) You then identify the next thing as a bed. And you therefore identify it is not Jim (because it cannot be both a bed and Jim). And so on through the whole room.

So you identify and use as evidence for your conclusion that "Jim isn't here" numerous facts of reality - chair, bed, table, computer, Jim, etc - and - the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, etc.. Without the acceptance and use of all this evidence (implicitly or explicitly), you could not rationally come to the conclusion "Jim isn't here".

No I don't. Since I'm only interested in finding Jim, I don't identify or make any inferences at all about all those other things in the room; I ignore them. If I went through all the mental operations you describe, it would take me much longer to come to my conclusion. Considering how irrelevant all the other things in that room are to what I want to find out, there is no reason to notice them or think about them at all.

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...most of the time, errors are a caused by false premises and not faulty logic. See your own example above.
And what is a false premise but a failure to identify without contradiction - ie faulty logic. So a non-contradictory statement of this assertion would be: most of the time, errors are caused by faulty logic.

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If the premises are true and the argument is valid, the conclusion is necessarily true. ----------

Doesn't this depend on the form of the argument and the nature of the premises? For example, (From Joseph's An Introduction to Logic, p265)

"Some taxes are levied at death. (Some M is P)

Excise-duties are taxes. (All S is M)

Therefore, excise-duties are levied at death." (No conclusion follows)

Also, if both premises are negative, no conclusion follows.

"Starches contain no nitrogen. (No M is P)

Some foods are not starches. (Some S is not M)

Some folds contain no nitrogen." (No conclusion follows.)

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In fact, logic is a method of dealing with evidence, but not evidence itself.
And this seems to be the point of our disagreement now. Every principle of logic one uses in a statement or an argument is a fact of reality and, as such, serves as evidence for that conclusion.
I disagree because logic is a concept of method and does not denote a fact of reality.
Since that was not my claim, your assertion doesn't address my actual statement.

I said the principles of logic one uses in a statement or an argument are facts of reality. Is it your assertion that principles of logic - such as the Laws of Identity - are not facts of reality? Unless that is your claim, you have provided no basis for your disagreement with what I actually stated.

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One would not rationally claim this about the other facts used in the argument, so why is the claim made when it comes to the facts of the logic used in the argument?
But logic isn't a fact. Logic is a method.
Actually, if you note, I said the "facts OF the logic". Each principle of logic which one applies in an argument is a fact. It is a fact of reality.

It's not. Principles of logic are concepts of method -- "how-tos" for keeping your conclusions in sync with reality.

If logic is not factual, then on what basis do you claim to use it as a standard for anything in reality?

The principles of logic are derived from certain facts of reality (e.g., contradictions cannot exist), but they are not themselves facts. They are prescriptions and standards for how to reason (e.g., when faced with a contradiction, check your premises).

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...most of the time, errors are a caused by false premises and not faulty logic. See your own example above.
And what is a false premise but a failure to identify without contradiction - ie faulty logic.

A contradiction is only one possible result of a false premise and there are others. There are also other causes of mis-identification besides faulty logic such as ignorance or insufficient evidence.

So a non-contradictory statement of this assertion would be: most of the time, errors are caused by faulty logic.

In fact, most errors are caused by ignorance and not faulty logic at all.

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---------

If the premises are true and the argument is valid, the conclusion is necessarily true. ----------

Doesn't this depend on the form of the argument and the nature of the premises? For example, (From Joseph's An Introduction to Logic, p265)

"Some taxes are levied at death. (Some M is P)

Excise-duties are taxes. (All S is M)

Therefore, excise-duties are levied at death." (No conclusion follows)

Also, if both premises are negative, no conclusion follows.

"Starches contain no nitrogen. (No M is P)

Some foods are not starches. (Some S is not M)

Some foods contain no nitrogen." (No conclusion follows.)

Those are not valid arguments.

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You see multiple things in the room. Thing here. Thing there, etc. You identify the first thing as a chair. You also identify that it is 'not Jim' (because it cannot be both a chair and Jim.) You then identify the next thing as a bed. And you therefore identify it is not Jim (because it cannot be both a bed and Jim). And so on through the whole room.

So you identify and use as evidence for your conclusion that "Jim isn't here" numerous facts of reality - chair, bed, table, computer, Jim, etc - and - the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, etc.. Without the acceptance and use of all this evidence (implicitly or explicitly), you could not rationally come to the conclusion "Jim isn't here".

No I don't. Since I'm only interested in finding Jim, I don't identify or make any inferences at all about all those other things in the room; I ignore them.
And my example identifies WHY you ignore them.
If I went through all the mental operations you describe, it would take me much longer to come to my conclusion.
No it wouldn't. But without that process, you could not come to any conclusion (at least not a rational one).

The absence of a thing means one cannot find evidence for that thing (since of course there can be no evidence of a thing which is not there). As such, to make the claim that a thing is not there, one MUST take notice of the things that ARE there. One must survey the available evidence and then determine that, among that evidence, there is no evidence of the thing for which you search.

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Is it your assertion that principles of logic - such as the Laws of Identity - are not facts of reality? Unless that is your claim, you have provided no basis for your disagreement with what I actually stated.

The Law of Identity is a fact, but it is not a principle of logic. Logic is a science of method, like mathematics, and those methods are how-tos based on facts. The principle would be something like "Make sure identity is always preserved in every conclusion."

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The absence of a thing means one cannot find evidence for that thing (since of course there can be no evidence of a thing which is not there). As such, to make the claim that a thing is not there, one MUST take notice of the things that ARE there. One must survey the available evidence and then determine that, among that evidence, there is no evidence of the thing for which you search.

No I don't. All I have to know is what Jim looks like and be able to recognize him.

I don't have to deal with all the not-Jims in the room any more than I have to deal with all the possible logical errors I might be making, the possible defects in my sensory apparatus, or the possibility that I might really be a brain in a vat deceived into believing what I do by an evil demon.

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The Law of Identity is a fact, but it is not a principle of logic.
And here we can finally see exactly where we diverge - we can now identify the source of our disagreement. And, at this point, I can again only suggest a review of Dr. Peikoff's course on Logic.

In the first lecture, Dr. Peikoff states:

...the purpose of a validating standard such as logic is to enable us to determine when our conclusions represent facts and when they don't. To enable us if we rigorously adhere to it to ensure our thought will conform to facts. Only a standard that itself is derived from the facts of existence can perform this function. Only a method whose principles are facts of reality can qualify as validating. In other words, only an ONTOLOGICAL logic has any point, any validity, any authority. [emphasis most definitely added]

Any other kind of logic is in the same category as the matriarcical example. So can dismiss without a second thought all of the non-ontological theories of logic. Whatever they are talking about it is NOT logic.

Alright, now our question is: well which facts of reality can serve as the basic principles of logic - as the principles at the base of our validating method? And the first point to see is that the facts in question must be universal - UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE – applicable to every subject matter – because we are looking for principle of a method which will guide us no matter what subject matter we are considering – past, present, future, mental, physical – shoes, ships, cabbages – rich men, poor men, beggar men, thief – art, love, politics, astronomy – you name it.

So we need then a fact or a principle inherent in everything which exists. A principle inherent in the nature of existence AS SUCH so that it will therefore be true of everything which exists. Or if we use Aristotle's famous expression for this, we need a principle which is true of "being qua being." In other words, of everything which exists simply in virtue of the fact that it exists. Now the principle we are seeking was of course first discovered (although not named as such) by Aristotle – the greatest of all philosophers and father of logic…

You of course are already familiar with it. I mean of course the Law of Identity.

After this he goes on to identify the nature of the Laws in its different forms (ie A is A; A is not non-A etc). And the point is clear: contrary to your assertion, the law of Identity is both a fact of reality and a principle of logic.

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The absence of a thing means one cannot find evidence for that thing (since of course there can be no evidence of a thing which is not there). As such, to make the claim that a thing is not there, one MUST take notice of the things that ARE there. One must survey the available evidence and then determine that, among that evidence, there is no evidence of the thing for which you search.
No I don't.
Yes, you do.
All I have to know is what Jim looks like and be able to recognize him.

I don't have to deal with all the not-Jims in the room...

Yes, you do. To claim otherwise is to claim you don't have to look at anything (you need no evidence) in order to make your claim.

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It looks like Dr. Peikoff and I are saying the same thing: that the principles of logic are factual in that they are based on ontological principles -- i.e., principles about reality. See what I have highlighted in red.

The Law of Identity is a fact, but it is not a principle of logic.
And here we can finally see exactly where we diverge - we can now identify the source of our disagreement. And, at this point, I can again only suggest a review of Dr. Peikoff's course on Logic.

In the first lecture, Dr. Peikoff states:

...the purpose of a validating standard such as logic is to enable us to determine when our conclusions represent facts and when they don't. To enable us if we rigorously adhere to it to ensure our thought will conform to facts. Only a standard that itself is derived from the facts of existence can perform this function. Only a method whose (ontological?) principles are facts of reality can qualify as validating. In other words, only an ONTOLOGICAL logic has any point, any validity, any authority. [emphasis most definitely added]

Any other kind of logic is in the same category as the matriarcical example. So can dismiss without a second thought all of the non-ontological theories of logic. Whatever they are talking about it is NOT logic.

Alright, now our question is: well which facts of reality can serve as the basic principles of logic - as the principles at the base of our validating method? And the first point to see is that the facts in question must be universal - UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE – applicable to every subject matter – because we are looking for principle of a method which will guide us no matter what subject matter we are considering – past, present, future, mental, physical – shoes, ships, cabbages – rich men, poor men, beggar men, thief – art, love, politics, astronomy – you name it.

So we need then a fact or a principle inherent in everything which exists. A principle inherent in the nature of existence AS SUCH so that it will therefore be true of everything which exists. Or if we use Aristotle's famous expression for this, we need a principle which is true of "being qua being." In other words, of everything which exists simply in virtue of the fact that it exists. Now the principle we are seeking was of course first discovered (although not named as such) by Aristotle – the greatest of all philosophers and father of logic…

You of course are already familiar with it. I mean of course the Law of Identity.

After this he goes on to identify the nature of the Laws in its different forms (ie A is A; A is not non-A etc). And the point is clear: contrary to your assertion, the law of Identity is both a fact of reality and a principle of logic.

I'd say that the Law of Identity is an ontological fact that the method of logic is based on just as quantity is the ontological fact that mathematics is based on. That doesn't make the methods for adding and subtracting themselves quantities.

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The absence of a thing means one cannot find evidence for that thing (since of course there can be no evidence of a thing which is not there). As such, to make the claim that a thing is not there, one MUST take notice of the things that ARE there. One must survey the available evidence and then determine that, among that evidence, there is no evidence of the thing for which you search.
No I don't.
Yes, you do.

Based on introspecting and reading Betsy's mind -- something I can do and you can't -- I have to say you're wrong.

All I have to know is what Jim looks like and be able to recognize him.

I don't have to deal with all the not-Jims in the room...

Yes, you do. To claim otherwise is to claim you don't have to look at anything (you need no evidence) in order to make your claim.

I have to look at the boundaries of the room, (walls, doorway, etc.) and I have to look for Jim, but that's it. I don't have to look at everything in the room.

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It looks like Dr. Peikoff and I are saying the same thing
No., you are not.
...that the principles of logic are factual in that they are based on ontological principles -- i.e., principles about reality.
The principles - Identity - is not merely "about" reality. It IS reality. It is a FACT.

'A is A' is both a fact and a principle of logic.

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It looks like Dr. Peikoff and I are saying the same thing
No., you are not.
...that the principles of logic are factual in that they are based on ontological principles -- i.e., principles about reality.
The principles - Identity - is not merely "about" reality. It IS reality. It is a FACT.

'A is A' is both a fact and a principle of logic.

It is a fact and a principle logic is based on, if that is what you mean by a principle of logic. The Law of Identity, however, is not a method. It is a fact of reality that the methods of logic are based on.

By the way, even if I were to assume, incorrectly, that the principles of logic were facts, it would not affect the answers to the following, so there is no reason to not answer:

Just to make sure I understand you correctly, Brian, how would you fill in the blanks?

If the premises of an argument are true and the argument is logically valid, then the conclusion is _______.

If the premises are not true, then the conclusion is ______.

If the argument is not logically valid, then the conclusion is ______.

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