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Old 25th July 2022, 06:07 AM   #1
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Equating/conflating two categories, because fringe

Is there a name for this (I guess informal) fallacy, where because there's some ambiguity about the fringe, about the demarcation between two categories, therefore someone equivocates/conflates between the categories themselves?

Like, I don't know, this would apply to anything really, but say there's times where there's some ambiguity over what's honest and what isn't, or what's immoral and what isn't --- or, hell, it doesn't have to be values necessarily, even what's day and what's night I guess --- therefore people conclude, or at least claim, that there's no such thing as honest and dishonest, moral and immoral, day and night? Or at least that those ideas are entirely subjective, and impossible to come to differentiate objectively --- specifically on account of the ambiguity around the demarcation/fringe?
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:03 AM   #2
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:04 AM   #3
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You mean something like this?

"You say day and night are binary opposites, but really they're just points on the dawn-dusk continuum, and not really 'day' and 'night' as you imagine them to be."

Or this?

"You say that sex is biologically binary in mammals, but the existence of rare intersex conditions reveals that sex is a spectrum, and the assignment of a binary sex - at birth, for example - is an arbitrary social construct that can and should be transcended by anyone who finds themselves elsewhere on the spectrum."
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:04 AM   #4
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Depends on how it's done, I guess.

The one that sounds the most like what you describe would be Loki's Wager. Though that's usually along the lines that if you can't exactly define something, e.g., because of such fuzzy borders (but often also just because someone says so), then you can't discuss it at all. One example would be in all the threads about Xianity, where sooner or later someone will essentially claim that you can't discuss pretty much anything about it, because you can't cover all fringe cases.

But it's possible to use other fallacies when approaching the problem differently. E.g., sorites would be an obvious one too.
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:11 AM   #5
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At this point trying to categorize all the flavors of stupid is counter-productive and since the trolling wrong have decided "You have to define exactly how I am wrong before I am really wrong" it's even helping them.

That being said what you describing doesn't seem to be all that different/distinct from "False equiveillance."
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:37 AM   #6
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Seems to me this is more like an Either/Or fallacy. The logic seems to be “It’s either black and white ors all the same”, excluding the possibility of a range or continuum.


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Old 25th July 2022, 07:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Is there a name for this (I guess informal) fallacy, where because there's some ambiguity about the fringe, about the demarcation between two categories, therefore someone equivocates/conflates between the categories themselves?

Like, I don't know, this would apply to anything really, but say there's times where there's some ambiguity over what's honest and what isn't, or what's immoral and what isn't --- or, hell, it doesn't have to be values necessarily, even what's day and what's night I guess --- therefore people conclude, or at least claim, that there's no such thing as honest and dishonest, moral and immoral, day and night? Or at least that those ideas are entirely subjective, and impossible to come to differentiate objectively --- specifically on account of the ambiguity around the demarcation/fringe?

There must be a name for this. I've seen it used a lot. There was a time on some forums I used to frequent were every once in awhile someone would pop up and argue against statutory rape laws on account of this.

That's the specific example I can think of but I've definitely seen it done in other contexts. Because there's no clear difference therefor there's no distinction at all.


ETA:
My internet search indicates that the either/or fallacy is the same as the false dichotomy, this is more like the opposite of that?

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Old 25th July 2022, 08:04 AM   #8
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Sounds to me like the continuum fallacy, the claim that, because there is a continuum of states between two specific states, therefore there is in principle no difference between those states. For example, one might argue that there is no such thing as a tall person, because height is a continuum and it is impossible to identify a specific height at which "tall" is no longer a valid description.

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Old 25th July 2022, 08:06 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Depends on how it's done, I guess.

The one that sounds the most like what you describe would be Loki's Wager. Though that's usually along the lines that if you can't exactly define something, e.g., because of such fuzzy borders (but often also just because someone says so), then you can't discuss it at all. One example would be in all the threads about Xianity, where sooner or later someone will essentially claim that you can't discuss pretty much anything about it, because you can't cover all fringe cases.

But it's possible to use other fallacies when approaching the problem differently. E.g., sorites would be an obvious one too.
And what happened to Loki should be warning to all semantic arguers!
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Old 25th July 2022, 08:30 AM   #10
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I'm not aware of a general name for this form of argument. I've seen people struggle with questions that can't really be answered about how to draw a crisp line in a fuzzy area with no real lines, or what else to do instead of drawing a line. But I don't think I've ever seen anybody actually making an argument that tries to switch from one to the other like "so that means there's no difference at all and these are exactly the same thing", except in the denial of the existence of human races, and even that seems to have been pretty much abandoned for the last few years. So I've never thought of trying to find a short expression or name for it in a more generic form, and I suspect that there isn't one because it just doesn't happen often enough.
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Old 25th July 2022, 08:40 AM   #11
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The problem is people pretending that clearly defined demarcations are necessary in 99% of cases.

"You know what we're talking about, stop pretending you don't to delay having to accept that you are wrong" is applicable in 99% of cases.

Human language doesn't require anywhere the level of precision people who are losing arguments pretend it does.

That's the elephant in the room here. We all know that when someone brings the discussion to halt to demand we hairsplit the difference between a hamburger with cheese and a cheeseburger that the discussion isn't actually ever going back to the original topic, no matter how clearly we define the arbitrary difference between a hamburger with cheese and a cheeseburger.

All that we're left with after that is someone demanding that we clearly define what is and isn't pedantics and you would be hard pressed to define "death spiral" better than that.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:13 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Sounds to me like the continuum fallacy, the claim that, because there is a continuum of states between two specific states, therefore there is in principle no difference between those states. For example, one might argue that there is no such thing as a tall person, because height is a continuum and it is impossible to identify a specific height at which "tall" is no longer a valid description.

Dave
Yes that's the one.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Sounds to me like the continuum fallacy, the claim that, because there is a continuum of states between two specific states, therefore there is in principle no difference between those states. For example, one might argue that there is no such thing as a tall person, because height is a continuum and it is impossible to identify a specific height at which "tall" is no longer a valid description.

Dave
Yep https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy


A rather informal logic book I read decades back called it "the logically black is white slide". It used a counterexample (which you may have noticed me use a few times) that there are 3 definitions of sunset (astronomical, nautical and civil) depending on whether the sun has touched the horizon, is bisected by the horizon or has just disappeared. Yet most people can tell night from day.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:38 AM   #14
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Oh it's the "That person is at a Nazi rally, wearing an SS uniform, waving a flag with a Swastika on it, openly and loudly claiming he is a Nazi... yah know this is the absolute best time to put on a big showy 'but how can we tell who is a Nazi? I mean who is to say?'" argument.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:30 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
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Although dated, but that made for an easy short watch. I like. And yes, I guess that's kind of sort of related, absolutely: the argument he's protesting, that because A is bad, and because B is bad, therefore you cannot differentiate between A and B. Related, sure, but doesn't quite hit the spot, not exactly?
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
You mean something like this?

"You say day and night are binary opposites, but really they're just points on the dawn-dusk continuum, and not really 'day' and 'night' as you imagine them to be."

Kind of. The conclusion being, therefore "day" and "night" do not make for coherent categories, or at any rate objective categories. Clearly not a valid conclusion.


Quote:
Or this?

"You say that sex is biologically binary in mammals, but the existence of rare intersex conditions reveals that sex is a spectrum, and the assignment of a binary sex - at birth, for example - is an arbitrary social construct that can and should be transcended by anyone who finds themselves elsewhere on the spectrum."

Haha, not walking into that black hole! But broadly, and without taking this any further at this time, yes, sure, that too.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Depends on how it's done, I guess.

The one that sounds the most like what you describe would be Loki's Wager. Though that's usually along the lines that if you can't exactly define something, e.g., because of such fuzzy borders (but often also just because someone says so), then you can't discuss it at all. One example would be in all the threads about Xianity, where sooner or later someone will essentially claim that you can't discuss pretty much anything about it, because you can't cover all fringe cases.

But it's possible to use other fallacies when approaching the problem differently. E.g., sorites would be an obvious one too.

Ah, the Loki paradox. I remember! That is, I've forgotten the details of our discussion there, but I remember having first heard of this beast from you, in another thread. (I'll check back in my post history later on to revisit that discussion, because I do remember it was an interesting one, although like I said the details of it I'm afraid I've forgotten.)

Well, kind of. Related, certainly, to what I'd been talking about; although I don't know if that's exactly what I'm looking for.

And we may have already covered this in our earlier discussion --- I'll go check back, later on --- but this seems more like a lack in how the terms were negotiated. Whether in Loki's case, or in Shylock's, just phrase the contract to read, "You are to give me your head, if dah dah dah", or "You are to give me a pound of your flesh from your chest, if buh buh buh", and you're good, no paradoxes anywhere. It's on Loki to deliver his head, and on Shylock to deliver his flesh, no matter how he works out this paradox in his head (prior to having it cut off!).



eta: Although, yes, how the Wiki entry starts by defining it ("Loki's Wager is the unreasonable insistence that a concept cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be discussed") does cover it, I guess. Although I'm not sure we're sure why exactly that's fallacy, why precisely it's "unreasonable"? (Apart, that is, from the practicalities of it, of course, which is better dealt with by rephrasing the contract like I suggested.)

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Old 25th July 2022, 11:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
At this point trying to categorize all the flavors of stupid is counter-productive and since the trolling wrong have decided "You have to define exactly how I am wrong before I am really wrong" it's even helping them.

That being said what you describing doesn't seem to be all that different/distinct from "False equiveillance."

Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Seems to me this is more like an Either/Or fallacy. The logic seems to be “It’s either black and white ors all the same”, excluding the possibility of a range or continuum.


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Kind of, I guess. Related, certainly. Not sure it's exactly that, but close, certainly.


eta:
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
There must be a name for this. I've seen it used a lot. There was a time on some forums I used to frequent were every once in awhile someone would pop up and argue against statutory rape laws on account of this.

That's the specific example I can think of but I've definitely seen it done in other contexts. Because there's no clear difference therefor there's no distinction at all.


ETA:
My internet search indicates that the either/or fallacy is the same as the false dichotomy, this is more like the opposite of that?

As far as the highlighted, exactly (if that is by "Because there's no clear difference", you mean "Because there's no precisely defined point of separation between the two categories").

As far as your edit, not quite; but related, certainly.

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Old 25th July 2022, 11:57 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Sounds to me like the continuum fallacy, the claim that, because there is a continuum of states between two specific states, therefore there is in principle no difference between those states. For example, one might argue that there is no such thing as a tall person, because height is a continuum and it is impossible to identify a specific height at which "tall" is no longer a valid description.

Dave

Bingo! Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
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Old 25th July 2022, 12:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
eta: Although, yes, how the Wiki entry starts by defining it ("Loki's Wager is the unreasonable insistence that a concept cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be discussed") does cover it, I guess. Although I'm not sure we're sure why exactly that's fallacy, why precisely it's "unreasonable"? (Apart, that is, from the practicalities of it, of course, which is better dealt with by rephrasing the contract like I suggested.)
Well, it's a fallacy if indeed it's unreasonable, usually via some form of the continuum fallacy. (In fact, Loki's Wager is sometimes used as a synonym for the continuum fallacy.) But not only. It can be simply by assertion, or by stringing together some non-sequiturs or whatever.

It's not about asking for a definition. It's insisting that one cannot exist, even when most people could find a working one that applies to the domain being discussed, and insisting that therefore the discussion can't continue.

Like, if I were to insist that you can't really define "drunk" because there's a continuum of BAC and alcohol resistance, and therefore we can't argue that DUI is bad. That's a continuum fallacy in there. But it can just be copious handwaving, like that we can't really define murder, because different cultures and jurisdictions have different exceptions there, thus we should stop talking about whether George Floyd was murdered.
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Old 25th July 2022, 12:20 PM   #21
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It's demanding an impossible definition (or definition OF a dividing line, depending on exactly how you want to look at it) AND demanding the discussion stop until you handed one on a silver platter.
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Old 25th July 2022, 12:53 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Bingo! Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!
I love the taxonomy of logical fallacies. But, of course, they're all variants of non sequitur, so there aren't any sharply defined divisions between them, meaning that none of them actually exist.

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Old 25th July 2022, 12:56 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, it's a fallacy if indeed it's unreasonable, usually via some form of the continuum fallacy. (In fact, Loki's Wager is sometimes used as a synonym for the continuum fallacy.) But not only. It can be simply by assertion, or by stringing together some non-sequiturs or whatever.

It's not about asking for a definition. It's insisting that one cannot exist, even when most people could find a working one that applies to the domain being discussed, and insisting that therefore the discussion can't continue.

Like, if I were to insist that you can't really define "drunk" because there's a continuum of BAC and alcohol resistance, and therefore we can't argue that DUI is bad. That's a continuum fallacy in there. But it can just be copious handwaving, like that we can't really define murder, because different cultures and jurisdictions have different exceptions there, thus we should stop talking about whether George Floyd was murdered.

Actually I read up a (little!) bit on the Continuum Fallacy (or the Sorites Paradox) just now, and as far as I could make out this isn't so much a "fallacy" per se, as a genuine paradox. That is, logic does actually break down here, with these vague terms, with these so-called sorites, or so it looks like to me.

Sure, there are workarounds. The two workarounds that made sense to me are: first, simply impose arbitrary designations, in order to force-fit some precision on to the vagueness. So define the age when it's safe to drive at x years, and at y years for when you can legally consent to have sex, and at z years to vote, etc; or, like in your example, define how much alcohol it is safe to drink for what purpose; etc. And the second workaround is to keep aside traditional/classical/binary/true-false logic, and instead employ multi-variate/fuzzy/continuum logic instead.

Now I base the above on a sum total of a quarter hour or so worth of reading, so I may well be off here. What I was wondering is:

(1) Am I right in thinking this is not so much a "fallacy" per se, as a true paradox, truly a case where (traditional/classical/binary) logic breaks down?

(2) How exactly does fuzzy logic resolve this paradox, exactly? Does it provide any actual solution, other than merely force-fitting arbitrarily designated boundaries within the continuum? (This, for those who do know their fuzzy logic, beyond just the definition of it, for those who actually have worked with it.)
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Old 25th July 2022, 01:08 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I love the taxonomy of logical fallacies. But, of course, they're all variants of non sequitur, so there aren't any sharply defined divisions between them, meaning that none of them actually exist.

Dave

Haha, true, they don't!


Seriously, though, I couldn't actually see where the "fallacy" part lies, in the Continuum Fallacy or the Sorites Paradox. A paradox, sure, but not so much the fallacy per se. (See my post immediately preceding.)

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Old 25th July 2022, 03:06 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Haha, true, they don't!


Seriously, though, I couldn't actually see where the "fallacy" part lies, in the Continuum Fallacy or the Sorites Paradox. A paradox, sure, but not so much the fallacy per se. (See my post immediately preceding.)
The fallacy is using the existence of a a continuum to argue that there are no distinctions that can be drawn. The existence of grey does not mean that there can be no black or white.

Most logical fallacy are only logical fallacies when they are used as such.

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Old 25th July 2022, 03:20 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Actually I read up a (little!) bit on the Continuum Fallacy (or the Sorites Paradox) just now, and as far as I could make out this isn't so much a "fallacy" per se, as a genuine paradox. That is, logic does actually break down here, with these vague terms, with these so-called sorites, or so it looks like to me.
Well, the paradox is one thing, using it in logic can however be fallacious. One trivial (and possibly most common) example is basically denying that a heap can exist.

Like, trivial example, nothing fundamental changes if I take another sip of this here Jaeger bomb. If I wasn't drunk before, I'm not gonna get drunk from another 0.01% BAC. So I can never get drunk. Yet your intuition probably tells you that at some point I'm going to be in no condition to drive anyway. (In case you wondered why so many of my stories involve taking the bus or a taxi...)

(Also your intuition should probably tell you to be a wee bit extra wary of my logic right now. I had half a bottle of Jägermeister in those bombs by now. And that's just the ante. Just saying )

Or actual example that actually comes up in practice, what's a day difference when it comes to physical or psychological maturity? Like, why is it a crime if I screw a girl one day before she turned 18, but not if she gets gangbanged at her 18'th birthday party? (I mean, that happens, right? All those *ahem* documentaries I saw online didn't lie to me, right?) So obviously the whole concept of statutory rape is nonsense, right? If I screw my 11 year old niece, it's still just a point on that continuum and thus ok, right?

(Note for those even more impared than I am after all that Jägermeister: those are examples of logical fallacies, not my actually advocating any of that. Max, if you're reading this, I swear to FSM I'm not actually proposing to screw Maxine! I'm never even in the same post code as her when you're not around! Don't unlock that gun safe, for FSM sake!)

But you have to draw a line SOMEWHERE. Like, ok, maybe 3 grains of wheat are not a heap, but a handful obviously IS. Even if you can't define the exact border precisely. Or maybe not shaving for 2 days doesn't mean I have a beard (since sorites is also often called the paradox of the beard), but at the moment I look like Leonidas in the movie 300, so you might call that a beard anyway. Even if you can't define down to micron EXACTLY when it stops being stubble and starts being a beard.

Or actual ancient philosophy stuff: if dropping a grain of wheat on the ground makes no sound, then obviously dropping a whole sack worth of it also makes no sound.

Or since I mentioned that earlier, maybe there is room for debate as to whether, depending on the jurisdiction, shooting a guy that trespassed on my property is murder, or whether shooting 3 guys vs 4 guys counts as a mass shooting, but we can probably still agree that if I went to my class reunion and shot half of them it's mass murder.

That's really the fallacy part. It's not about the merits of a philosophical paradox. I know there are people around (Hi, Joe!) which are against philosophy on a fundamental level, but I'm not one of them. If you want to think long and hard about anything, even if it's "why is it called 'taking a dump', when you're not taking it anywhere" like in Beavis And Butthead, it beats NOT thinking long and hard, as far as I'm concerned. The fallacy part is insisting that if there's no clear border and definition for that border, then the heap doesn't exist, and any talk about the heap must stop.
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Old 25th July 2022, 04:30 PM   #27
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I think only in rare cases would people really claim the categories don't exist at all on account of the ambiguous line between them unless it's just pretentious mental masturbation. But discussing the messy middle can be important because though broad categories may exist, people excessively try to shoehorn concepts into one or the other to make things easier to think about, even if such an arrangement doesn't exist in the real world.
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Old 25th July 2022, 04:47 PM   #28
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You'd be surprised how often the fact that it's obvious mental masturbation won't stop people from gripping it with both hands and yanking like they're trying to rip it off. Especially when they're an intellectual zero without a border or schizophrenic, so what looks to you like pointless mental masturbation looks to them like the revelation of the century, nay, verily of the millennium, the kind of thing that will enlighten everyone and redefine how people think about X for millennia to come.

ESPECIALLY when it comes to the revelation that there are one or two debatable notches in the middle of the scale. That's the kind of thing that looks like the mind-blowing earth-shattering paradigm-shifting revelation that Plato or Aristotle, or indeed Newton and Einstein, WISH they could have thought up... for the kind of person who needs 3 tries to count their toes and arrive at the right number. (Which might not be 10 in their case... just saying...)

Nothing says, "everyone should stop everything and start being awestruck at my genius" for a complete, inbred, category III moron like discovering that there's a point around 3 or 4 grain where it's genuinely arguable if it's a heap yet or not (or whether a 17 years and 364 day old girl is as mature as an 18 year old one), which MIGHT actually affect a completely different philosophical point than what's actually being discussed. Stop the presses, send the town criers, blow the trumpets, rewrite the philosophy manuals, start chiselling their statue, etc. Verily nobody else EVER realized that

Don't underestimate the power of Graysk... err... I mean, of Dunning-Kruger, is all I'm saying.
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Old 25th July 2022, 08:11 PM   #29
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We have a small local southern Chinese community. They and my ethnic group share a common ancestry and there is some overlap in our phenotypes. Yet there are more distinct looks which won't pass in the other's community that separate us.

We'd be wrong for saying because 20 percent of us could pass among the Chinese, there are no physical differences between us, but one could be forgiven for mistaking one of them for one of us given the sizeable variety of looks that we do share.

If an old, rural Kentucky woman tells me she can't tell us apart based on the one or two times she's seen us, I actually would think she's sincere, if a bit lazy or ignorant. I wouldn't suspect she's just trolling me. No shortage of this in my experience.

Yes, some people may be overly concerned about clear demarcations, but I don't think the question is totally unwarranted given most misunderstandings may arise there rather than the centers or ends of the overlapping categories. It's not something I just dismiss as unimportant or worse malicious.
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Old 25th July 2022, 08:47 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I love the taxonomy of logical fallacies. But, of course, they're all variants of non sequitur, so there aren't any sharply defined divisions between them, meaning that none of them actually exist.
I see what you did there.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:49 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
The fallacy is using the existence of a a continuum to argue that there are no distinctions that can be drawn. The existence of grey does not mean that there can be no black or white.

Most logical fallacy are only logical fallacies when they are used as such.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, the paradox is one thing, using it in logic can however be fallacious. One trivial (and possibly most common) example is basically denying that a heap can exist.

Like, trivial example, nothing fundamental changes if I take another sip of this here Jaeger bomb. If I wasn't drunk before, I'm not gonna get drunk from another 0.01% BAC. So I can never get drunk. Yet your intuition probably tells you that at some point I'm going to be in no condition to drive anyway. (In case you wondered why so many of my stories involve taking the bus or a taxi...)

(Also your intuition should probably tell you to be a wee bit extra wary of my logic right now. I had half a bottle of Jägermeister in those bombs by now. And that's just the ante. Just saying )

Or actual example that actually comes up in practice, what's a day difference when it comes to physical or psychological maturity? Like, why is it a crime if I screw a girl one day before she turned 18, but not if she gets gangbanged at her 18'th birthday party? (I mean, that happens, right? All those *ahem* documentaries I saw online didn't lie to me, right?) So obviously the whole concept of statutory rape is nonsense, right? If I screw my 11 year old niece, it's still just a point on that continuum and thus ok, right?

(Note for those even more impared than I am after all that Jägermeister: those are examples of logical fallacies, not my actually advocating any of that. Max, if you're reading this, I swear to FSM I'm not actually proposing to screw Maxine! I'm never even in the same post code as her when you're not around! Don't unlock that gun safe, for FSM sake!)

But you have to draw a line SOMEWHERE. Like, ok, maybe 3 grains of wheat are not a heap, but a handful obviously IS. Even if you can't define the exact border precisely. Or maybe not shaving for 2 days doesn't mean I have a beard (since sorites is also often called the paradox of the beard), but at the moment I look like Leonidas in the movie 300, so you might call that a beard anyway. Even if you can't define down to micron EXACTLY when it stops being stubble and starts being a beard.

Or actual ancient philosophy stuff: if dropping a grain of wheat on the ground makes no sound, then obviously dropping a whole sack worth of it also makes no sound.

Or since I mentioned that earlier, maybe there is room for debate as to whether, depending on the jurisdiction, shooting a guy that trespassed on my property is murder, or whether shooting 3 guys vs 4 guys counts as a mass shooting, but we can probably still agree that if I went to my class reunion and shot half of them it's mass murder.

That's really the fallacy part. It's not about the merits of a philosophical paradox. I know there are people around (Hi, Joe!) which are against philosophy on a fundamental level, but I'm not one of them. If you want to think long and hard about anything, even if it's "why is it called 'taking a dump', when you're not taking it anywhere" like in Beavis And Butthead, it beats NOT thinking long and hard, as far as I'm concerned. The fallacy part is insisting that if there's no clear border and definition for that border, then the heap doesn't exist, and any talk about the heap must stop.

Originally Posted by Venom View Post
I think only in rare cases would people really claim the categories don't exist at all on account of the ambiguous line between them unless it's just pretentious mental masturbation. But discussing the messy middle can be important because though broad categories may exist, people excessively try to shoehorn concepts into one or the other to make things easier to think about, even if such an arrangement doesn't exist in the real world.

Right, yes, of course. It isn't the paradox itself that is the fallacy. It is the unwarranted/fallacious use of the paradox, to then claim that heaps don't exist, for instance, or that heaps are not a meaningful category that can be discussed, that is the fallacy.

Whether deliberately employed, or inadvertently fallen into, it is that (mis-)use of the sorites paradox that is the fallacy. That's kind of obvious, once the nature of the paradox is clarified; but yeah, I needed to have that spelt out to have that click in my mind! Thanks.




---

eta: And yes, clearly your post spells this out, as well, Joe; except reading it hadn't "clicked" it for me when I first read it, as it does now. And your post as well, Dave; even as I laughed at your joke, somehow it didn't occur to me, then, that that was the obvious answer to the "how" question I was asking.

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Old 25th July 2022, 10:02 PM   #32
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Which --- my post above --- answers the question I'd asked.



Still, I'm curious, and perhaps someone here who's familiar with the nittty gritties of how fuzzy logic actually works can clarify what I'd asked earlier:

How exactly does fuzzy logic resolve the sorites paradox? Does it provide any actual solution, other than merely force-fitting arbitrarily designated boundaries within the continuum, which latter seems to be the only workaround that regular normal binary logic admits of?



(This question's not so much about the Continuum Fallacy per se. The Continuum Fallacy question's been answered already, both the 'what' of it, as well as the 'how' of it. I'm asking this as far as the Sorites Paradox. About how exactly the paradox itself is resolved using fuzzy logic.)
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Old 26th July 2022, 04:06 AM   #33
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If it had a clear solution, it wouldn't be a paradox.

How we 'solve' it in practice is basically finding a good enough limit for whatever the actual problem is. Bearing in mind that almost invariably defining the heap isn't the actual problem. It's a means to an end, or rather one of the variables. E.g., outside philosophical exercises, the issue isn't to define exactly what counts 'drunk', but statistically around what BAC point most people are still ok to drive. Some more than others, but that's inevitable when dealing with masses of real people.
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Old 26th July 2022, 04:13 AM   #34
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@Venom
And I'm saying that I'm drawing blanks as to when that would actually be so important as to warrant stopping any discussion until it's clearly solved once and for all. Which is what Loki's Wager is really about.

Most people would be able to work with an imprecise definition of what would count as a local Chinese community -- if nothing else, you can just take their word for it; e.g., see how many declared themselves as such in the last census -- not detour it into whether you're 100% sure that one of those guys isn't actually Korean, or whether Li still counts as Chinese when he has 2 Anglo-Saxon grandparents

Plus, as I was saying above, the heap is only extremely rarely the actual problem you're trying to solve. Like, if we're talking Chinese communities, you may be interested in stuff like whether you need a Chinese school or day care there. In which case it's more of a question of how many kids speak the language, than splitting hairs over genetics and phenotypes.
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Old 26th July 2022, 10:24 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
@Venom
And I'm saying that I'm drawing blanks as to when that would actually be so important as to warrant stopping any discussion until it's clearly solved once and for all. Which is what Loki's Wager is really about.
Well a skeptics discussion, for one...

Moreover, I think compulsively invoking logical fallacies can itself be fallacious.
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Old 26th July 2022, 10:50 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
If it had a clear solution, it wouldn't be a paradox.

No, I get that. But most of the sources I looked up ended by saying that binary logic comes up short when dealing with this kind of vagueness, and that multi-variate logic, that is to say fuzzy logic, is better suited for it. So that I supposed that when you do use fuzzy logic, you'd get some clear resolution to this paradox. (Much like simple calculus can be used to resolve what, using arithmetic, looks like a paradox. Like the Zeno thing where you never get anywhere, except when you use simple school-level limits you get concrete answers, like that.) And I was wondering what that resolution, using fuzzy logic, might look like. (It must be obvious from what what I say here that I myself know squat about fuzzy logic, beyond a bare-bones definition of it and some of the areas where it finds application.)


Quote:
How we 'solve' it in practice is basically finding a good enough limit for whatever the actual problem is. Bearing in mind that almost invariably defining the heap isn't the actual problem. It's a means to an end, or rather one of the variables. E.g., outside philosophical exercises, the issue isn't to define exactly what counts 'drunk', but statistically around what BAC point most people are still ok to drive. Some more than others, but that's inevitable when dealing with masses of real people.

Sure, yes, I get that. The part where we force-fit precision on to the vagueness, to force the vagueness to go away. Nothing fuzzy-logical about that, though? Basically just define "heap" as 50 large rocks, or 10,000 grains of sand, or whatever.


Incidentally, that's insightful, what you say here: "...(Almost) invariably defining the heap isn't the actual problem. It's a means to an end...". So that even if conceptually, and in the abstract, that's not exactly a very elegant solution, but in practice I suppose it's quite adequate. (More or less, because in some cases you do have disagreement over what the definition should amount to, because at the end of the day it's an arbitrary definition, but still.)
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Old 26th July 2022, 12:40 PM   #37
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Well, I can't even think of a practical conversation -- outside a philosophy class -- where we would need to define if something is really a heap or not. Does that sand look heap-shaped to you? Good, then it's a heap. Now we can continue talking about what to do with it, to it, or about it.
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Old 26th July 2022, 01:07 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, I can't even think of a practical conversation -- outside a philosophy class -- where we would need to define if something is really a heap or not. Does that sand look heap-shaped to you? Good, then it's a heap. Now we can continue talking about what to do with it, to it, or about it.
Hmm, more like a pile I'd say.
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Old 26th July 2022, 01:09 PM   #39
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Right. Then let's call it a pile

That's how a normal conversation goes, is all I'm saying.
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Old 26th July 2022, 01:19 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, I can't even think of a practical conversation -- outside a philosophy class -- where we would need to define if something is really a heap or not. Does that sand look heap-shaped to you? Good, then it's a heap. Now we can continue talking about what to do with it, to it, or about it.
You want to automate a process. "When these conditions are met, do X until the conditions are no longer met, then do Y."

Move that pile of sand into that hopper.

Hand a human a shovel, and unless they're Kevin they'll buckle down and get it done.

Tell a robot to do it, how does the robot know when there's no more pile?

Or, you know, ask a robot to distinguish between simple ignorance, misunderstanding, and actual Kevin behavior.

Or ask a robot to figure out when a customer has a legitimate complaint, when they have a legitimate complaint and they're handling it poorly, or when they're just behaving badly for no reason at all. What's the final straw that makes them a Karen?
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