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Old 8th July 2004, 07:44 AM   #1
IndigoRose
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Linguistics and formal logic

In a book I am reading is the following:
"Mathematical proofs are merely matters of form, with the question of meaning put aside....axioms are strings of uninterpreted symbols....any interpretations of the symbols play no role at all in deducing theorems."

My question is not a challenge of that, but a question of how often "logical arguments" become a discussion based on the meanings of the words contained in them. Do you have some good examples of where the problem was in the linguistics and not in the formal logic?
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:04 AM   #2
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Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose
In a book I am reading is the following:
"Mathematical proofs are merely matters of form, with the question of meaning put aside....axioms are strings of uninterpreted symbols....any interpretations of the symbols play no role at all in deducing theorems."

My question is not a challenge of that, but a question of how often "logical arguments" become a discussion based on the meanings of the words contained in them. Do you have some good examples of where the problem was in the linguistics and not in the formal logic?
IndigoRose
The whole categories of fallacy of accent, fallacy of equivocation, and so forth deal with semantics, rather than formal logic.
Does that help?
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:17 AM   #3
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Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose
Do you have some good examples of where the problem was in the linguistics and not in the formal logic?
IndigoRose
Just last week I was in a debate over "universal truths". So, were we talking about facts, or about pithy axiomatic sayings? I have no idea.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:50 AM   #4
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d(a,b) + d(b,c) <= d(a,c), except where void or prohibited by law.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:53 AM   #5
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Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by DrMatt


The whole categories of fallacy of accent, fallacy of equivocation, and so forth deal with semantics, rather than formal logic.
Does that help?
Yes, fallacies of equivocation are what I am talking about. Can you give me some examples of those that you have come across? Can you give me some examples of fallacy of accent?
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Old 8th July 2004, 09:11 AM   #6
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Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


Yes, fallacies of equivocation are what I am talking about. Can you give me some examples of those that you have come across? Can you give me some examples of fallacy of accent?
IndigoRose
A fallacy of equivocation is where you use the same word, but with two different meanings. A classic (joke) example :

Q: Which would you rather have, a cheese sandwich or complete happiness?

A: A cheese sandwich. Because nothing is better than complete happiness, but a cheese sandwich is better than nothing.

Typing "fallacy of equivocation" into your favorite web search engine should provide dozens of examples. Here's one from about.com : " 2. It is wrong to kill innocent human beings. (premise #1) Fetuses are innocent human beings. (premise #2) Therefore, it is wrong to kill fetuses. (conclusion)." The phrase "innocent human beings" is arguably being used in two different senses in the two premises. (Alternatively, it's being used consistently and is an example of "begging the question.")

Another classic (realistic) example is an argument that hinges on the identity of the God worshipped by Christians, Muslims, and Jews (of of the Jesus mentioned in the Koran and the New Testament). Despite the fact that the same words are often used, the underlying concepts as understood by believers are often quite different.

Finally, a political example with real-life consequences concerns the current "War on Terrorism" and the previous "War on Drugs." Mililtary law is set up with slightly different rules in "wartime" and "peacetime," based mainly on the idea that battlefield expediency may require. for example, certain judicial niceties to be waived or the rules about recruitment/retention of soldiers be adjusted. Can these rules, set up and justified in the 19th-century for the conditions of a battlefield war between national armies, be generalized to a "war" on a 21st century abstraction, such as "drugs" or "terrorism"?

Fallacies of accent are, frankly, just silly. They're fallacies of equivocation where the word equivocated upon has two different pronunciations -- for example, "conTRACT" the verb, and "CONtract" the noun. If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment.
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Old 8th July 2004, 10:08 AM   #7
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by drkitten


Fallacies of accent are, frankly, just silly. They're fallacies of equivocation where the word equivocated upon has two different pronunciations -- for example, "conTRACT" the verb, and "CONtract" the noun. If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment.
Thank you for the examples. I am hoping to get even more examples from people's experiences.

The accent examples are good sources of humor.
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Old 8th July 2004, 11:03 AM   #8
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by drkitten
Fallacies of accent are, frankly, just silly. They're fallacies of equivocation where the word equivocated upon has two different pronunciations -- for example, "conTRACT" the verb, and "CONtract" the noun. If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment.
There is no fallacy here. IndigoRose may have misconstrued you, but that is not a fallacy. To commit the fallacy one must make an argument in which one equivocates on the pronunciation error.
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Old 8th July 2004, 12:08 PM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

There is no fallacy here. IndigoRose may have misconstrued you, but that is not a fallacy. To commit the fallacy one must make an argument in which one equivocates on the pronunciation error.
I did not ask for fallacies, I asked for examples, and the examples given met my needs.
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Old 8th July 2004, 02:41 PM   #10
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The most interesting semantic argument i have seen is the irreducable qualia argument:
In two forms it seems to be a semantic based argument, based upon langiage and not coherence, as a materialist i could be very wrong.

Some idealists have stated that materialism is a closed system that requires and 'objective' or 'reductionist' stance, and that for something to be 'true' in the 'objective' stance it must be observable by more than one observer. Therefore qualia(the basis sensation) are irreducable and not in the material realm, because only "I" can have my experience of the color red, it can not be shared. Since it can not be shared it is not objective.

Even more interesting was the argument of Titus Rivas, a theoretical psychologist. His argument about the mystery of cognition maintained that if the brain was purely mechanical it would be like reducing all thought to numbers. Some thoughts are about mundane things and he felt that these most likely could be reduced in a mechanical sense, as could qualia(to an extent).
But the variety and subtle gradations of qualia represent an infinite number of states. Sort of like the real and irrational numbers, a colr could equate to a real number but in between a color and another color there would be a very large set of other colors and in between any qualia and another qualia there could be a very large set of experiences. Therefore the human brain could not possibly mechanicaly represent all the varieties of color or other qualia, and therefore they must reside in some mystic phenomena.
Even more interesting to him was thinking, he felt that thinking about mundane things could be represented mechanicaly, except for qualia, but that there are thoughts about thoughts and thoughts that are about thinking about thoughts. Such meta-cognition can not be represented mechanicaly and therefore it too needed some mystic phenomena to explain it.

As far as I can tell these are arguments that rest upon the semantics used.
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Old 8th July 2004, 06:10 PM   #11
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


I did not ask for fallacies, I asked for examples, and the examples given met my needs.
IndigoRose
You seem to be establishing a strange pattern here. You say something. Someone responds to it. Then you say you didn't say what you said. Here we go again.

First of all, I was responding to drkitten. I responded directly to drkitten's post. Drkitten wrote:
Quote:
Fallacies of accent are, frankly, just silly. They're fallacies of equivocation where the word equivocated upon has two different pronunciations -- for example, "conTRACT" the verb, and "CONtract" the noun. If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment.
I then pointed out:
Quote:
There is no fallacy here. IndigoRose may have misconstrued you, but that is not a fallacy. To commit the fallacy one must make an argument in which one equivocates on the pronunciation error.
This was a direct reponse to drkitten's hypothetical.

Now onto what you asked for. Despite your claim above, here is what you wrote:
Quote:
Yes, fallacies of equivocation are what I am talking about. Can you give me some examples of those that you have come across? Can you give me some examples of fallacy of accent?
IndigoRose
Perhaps you will be so good as to note you not only asked about fallacies, but specifically about fallacies of equivocation.
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Old 8th July 2004, 06:30 PM   #12
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt


Perhaps you will be so good as to note you not only asked about fallacies, but specifically about fallacies of equivocation.

You seem to be having some difficulty understanding, so I will state what I said again:

"Can you give me some EXAMPLES of those that you have come across? Can you give me some EXAMPLES of fallacy of accent?"

If you don't have any examples to offer, why are you bothering to respond to a request for examples?
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Old 8th July 2004, 06:41 PM   #13
IndigoRose
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David
The most interesting semantic argument i have seen is the irreducable qualia argument:
In two forms it seems to be a semantic based argument, based upon langiage and not coherence, as a materialist i could be very wrong.

Some idealists have stated that materialism is a closed system that requires and 'objective' or 'reductionist' stance, and that for something to be 'true' in the 'objective' stance it must be observable by more than one observer. Therefore qualia(the basis sensation) are irreducable and not in the material realm, because only "I" can have my experience of the color red, it can not be shared. Since it can not be shared it is not objective.

Even more interesting was the argument of Titus Rivas, a theoretical psychologist. His argument about the mystery of cognition maintained that if the brain was purely
mechanical it would be like reducing all thought to numbers. Some thoughts are about mundane things and he felt that these most likely could be reduced in a mechanical sense, as could qualia(to an extent).
But the variety and subtle gradations of qualia represent an infinite number of states. Sort of like the real and irrational numbers, a colr could equate to a real number but in between a color and another color there would be a very large set of other colors and in between any qualia and another qualia there could be a very large set of experiences. Therefore the human brain could not possibly mechanicaly represent all the varieties of color or other qualia, and therefore they must reside in some mystic phenomena.
Even more interesting to him was thinking, he felt that thinking about mundane things could be represented mechanicaly, except for qualia, but that there are thoughts about thoughts and thoughts that are about thinking about thoughts. Such meta-cognition can not be represented mechanicaly and therefore it too needed some mystic phenomena to explain it.

As far as I can tell these are arguments that rest upon the semantics used.
Can you give me some examples you have come across?
IndigoRose
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Old 8th July 2004, 06:43 PM   #14
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose



You seem to be having some difficulty understanding, so I will state what I said again:

"Can you give me some EXAMPLES of those that you have come across? Can you give me some EXAMPLES of fallacy of accent?"

If you don't have any examples to offer, why are you bothering to respond to a request for examples?
IndigoRose
I responded to drkitten's example by explaining that it was incorrect. It is not at all an example of a fallacy. If you would take the time to read my response you will see I took the time to explain why it is incorrect.
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Old 8th July 2004, 07:09 PM   #15
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

I responded to drkitten's example by explaining that it was incorrect. It is not at all an example of a fallacy. If you would take the time to read my response you will see I took the time to explain why it is incorrect.
Since I am the one requesting the examples that I need, I am the one who decides whether the examples meet the criteria I stated at the beginning of the thread. I did not ask you to evaluate them as to whether they were examples of fallacies.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:02 PM   #16
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


Since I am the one requesting the examples that I need, I am the one who decides whether the examples meet the criteria I stated at the beginning of the thread. I did not ask you to evaluate them as to whether they were examples of fallacies.
IndigoRose
Wrong. This is a public forum run by a skeptical organization. It is here to educate people. If you want to have a private discussion, then email or PM someone. If, on the other hand, you post to a public skeptical forum, you should expect to see both replies and replies to replies. You should also expect that some answers, however good they may have seemed at first, might be wrong. The post about which I commented was an example of this.

The key to the notion of fallacy is that it is an argument gone wrong. There are two types: formal and informal. Formal fallacies are flat-out wrongly formulated syllogisms in a more mathematical sense. Informal fallacies span a broader range, encompassing the topic of semantic errors that you raised here.

Drkitten's post was in error. The example given was: "If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment. " Your interpretation would not be a fallacy, as you did not make an argument here. You simply misunderstood what had been written. This is different. You must construct an argument wherein you set up a major premise using contract in the "legal document" sense and wherein the minor premise uses contract in the "get smaller" sense. Only when you set up such an argument, have you made the semantic shift and made the fallacy.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:08 PM   #17
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

Wrong. This is a public forum run by a skeptical organization. It is here to educate people. If you want to have a private discussion, then email or PM someone. If, on the other hand, you post to a public skeptical forum, you should expect to see both replies and replies to replies. You should also expect that some answers, however good they may have seemed at first, might be wrong. The post about which I commented was an example of this.

The key to the notion of fallacy is that it is an argument gone wrong. There are two types: formal and informal. Formal fallacies are flat-out wrongly formulated syllogisms in a more mathematical sense. Informal fallacies span a broader range, encompassing the topic of semantic errors that you raised here.

Drkitten's post was in error. The example given was: "If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment. " Your interpretation would not be a fallacy, as you did not make an argument here. You simply misunderstood what had been written. This is different. You must construct an argument wherein you set up a major premise using contract in the "legal document" sense and wherein the minor premise uses contract in the "get smaller" sense. Only when you set up such an argument, have you made the semantic shift and made the fallacy.
If you want to start a thread on fallacies then you can do that. If you have no examples to offer, then quit trying to sidetrack those who are supplying me with the examples I asked for. DrKitten was responding to my request. You are not.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:12 PM   #18
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


If you want to start a thread on fallacies then you can do that. If you have no examples to offer, then quit trying to sidetrack those who are supplying me with the examples I asked for. DrKitten was responding to my request. You are not.
IndigoRose
I have pointed out to you that I am responding directly to drkitten's response. I have pointed out to you that drkitten's example was wrong. This is direct response to your question. You asked for an example of a particular type of fallacy. The example given was of no fallacy whatsoever.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:19 PM   #19
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

I have pointed out to you that I am responding directly to drkitten's response. I have pointed out to you that drkitten's example was wrong. This is direct response to your question. You asked for an example of a particular type of fallacy. The example given was of no fallacy whatsoever.
DrKitten supplied me with what I was looking for. You did not. That means that your interpretation of what I am looking for is wrong. If you want to start a thread on fallacies, then why don't you do that instead of posting to this thread.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:22 PM   #20
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


DrKitten supplied me with what I was looking for. You did not. That means that your interpretation of what I am looking for is wrong. If you want to start a thread on fallacies, then why don't you do that instead of posting to this thread.
IndigoRose
Don't be obtuse. That was not an example of the fallacy you sought. If you think otherwise, then please spell out your reasoning.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:27 PM   #21
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal lo

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

Don't be obtuse. That was not an example of the fallacy you sought. If you think otherwise, then please spell out your reasoning.
Go start a thread on fallacies if you wish, but quit claiming that you understand what I am looking for, because you clearly do not.
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:33 PM   #22
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and forma

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


Go start a thread on fallacies if you wish, but quit claiming that you understand what I am looking for, because you clearly do not.
IndigoRose
Do explain to us, please how your request for examples of the accent fallacy was addressed by an example in which no such fallacy was proffered? Please take us through this, bit by bit:

""If I wrote that I had seen a book contract, and you interpreted it as seeing a book get smaller, you would be a) guilty of a fallacy of accent, and b) possibly in need of a medication adjustment."
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Old 8th July 2004, 08:48 PM   #23
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and f

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt


Do explain to us, please how your request for examples of the accent fallacy was addressed by an example in which no such fallacy was proffered?
This was the original request: "Do you have some good examples of where the problem was in the linguistics and NOT in the formal logic?"

If you want to talk about formal logic and fallacies, why don't you start a different thread?

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Old 9th July 2004, 02:17 AM   #24
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics a

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


This was the original request: "Do you have some good examples of where the problem was in the linguistics and NOT in the formal logic?"

If you want to talk about formal logic and fallacies, why don't you start a different thread?

IndigoRose
The informal fallacies do not concern formal logic. They concern a number of other logical problems, including problems in linguistics. The fallacy of accent is such an example. The problem there does not lie in the formal construction of the syllogism but in the language error -- the equivocation.
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Old 9th July 2004, 06:29 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David
The most interesting semantic argument i have seen is the irreducable qualia argument:
In two forms it seems to be a semantic based argument, based upon langiage and not coherence, as a materialist i could be very wrong.

Some idealists have stated that materialism is a closed system that requires and 'objective' or 'reductionist' stance, and that for something to be 'true' in the 'objective' stance it must be observable by more than one observer. Therefore qualia(the basis sensation) are irreducable and not in the material realm, because only "I" can have my experience of the color red, it can not be shared. Since it can not be shared it is not objective.

Even more interesting was the argument of Titus Rivas, a theoretical psychologist. His argument about the mystery of cognition maintained that if the brain was purely mechanical it would be like reducing all thought to numbers. Some thoughts are about mundane things and he felt that these most likely could be reduced in a mechanical sense, as could qualia(to an extent).
But the variety and subtle gradations of qualia represent an infinite number of states. Sort of like the real and irrational numbers, a colr could equate to a real number but in between a color and another color there would be a very large set of other colors and in between any qualia and another qualia there could be a very large set of experiences. Therefore the human brain could not possibly mechanicaly represent all the varieties of color or other qualia, and therefore they must reside in some mystic phenomena.
Even more interesting to him was thinking, he felt that thinking about mundane things could be represented mechanicaly, except for qualia, but that there are thoughts about thoughts and thoughts that are about thinking about thoughts. Such meta-cognition can not be represented mechanicaly and therefore it too needed some mystic phenomena to explain it.

As far as I can tell these are arguments that rest upon the semantics used.
Interesting example. I'm not sure that I accept that these arguments really "rest upon the semantics used," in the sense of this thread. I mean, this sort of argment is really just a detailed analysis of the properties of qualia, yes? I don't think there's any real discussion about the semantics of "qualia," but instead about the properties of qualia, which are somewhat controversial.

To understand the kind of distinction I'm trying to make : if I said that "dogs are descendants of wolves, not jackals," there are two obvious paths of refutation. The first is to look at, for example, DNA similarities among the three species, the fossil record, and so forth. The second is to point out that the notion of "descendant" is incorrect in an evolutionary sense, and what I really meant to say was "dogs and wolves are descended from a closer common ancestor than are dogs and jackals."

Note that the first counterargument does not seem to hinge on any "semantics" whatsoever. Everyone in the room understands what "dogs," "jackals," "wolves," and even "descendants" mean. Instead it's a study of the possibly unknown attributes of a set with a well-established and well-known definition. Although we may know what a "dog" is, we don't know everything there is to know about dogs in general.... but new discoveries, for example, about their DNA, will probably not substantially affect our definition of "dog."
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Old 9th July 2004, 09:41 AM   #26
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


Since I am the one requesting the examples that I need, I am the one who decides whether the examples meet the criteria I stated at the beginning of the thread. I did not ask you to evaluate them as to whether they were examples of fallacies.
IndigoRose
It is a fine tradition at the JREF that poster respond to any post they choose, as long as it is on topic of the OP it is legal in this moderated forum.
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Old 9th July 2004, 09:56 AM   #27
Dancing David
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Dr Kitten:

I feel my post gets right at this part of the OP:
Quote:
"logical arguments" become a discussion based on the meanings of the words contained in them.
In that the definition of the word 'objective' or 'mechanical/numerical' becomes crucial to the way the argument proceds.
In the threads that I am paraphrasing, the definition of the word 'objective' is crucial to the discussion. If the person A defines 'objective' to mean 'observed by two people' and I define it as 'having the quality of potentialy being measured', then the discussion is not about the nature of qualia, but about what is objective.
In the second argument the discussion rests upon the definition of 'brain states under materialism being essentialy mechanical or numeric' and that therefore indeterminate qualia and meta cognition can not be represented by the brain under that definition. But if I define 'brain states' to include such things as 'learned contingent developement', 'analog as opposed to nemeric representation', and 'associative states of defined meaning'. It becaome very possible to have 'materialistic brain states' that allow for indeterminant qualia and metacognition. Because the argument then does not rest upon anything other that the defintion of 'materialistic brain states'.

At least that is why i percieve it as a n argument about the meaning of words, 'objective and 'materialistic brain states', as opposed to a discussion of qualia and metacognition. My feeling is that the definition of 'objective' and 'mechanical' is a closed definition and that the argument rests upon refuting the closed sate of the definition, while I counter that the definition is not closed and perhaps more ambigous. A discussion of the meaning of the words?
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Old 9th July 2004, 10:22 AM   #28
drkitten
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David
Dr Kitten:


In that the definition of the word 'objective' or 'mechanical/numerical' becomes crucial to the way the argument proceds.
In the threads that I am paraphrasing, the definition of the word 'objective' is crucial to the discussion. If the person A defines 'objective' to mean 'observed by two people' and I define it as 'having the quality of potentialy being measured', then the discussion is not about the nature of qualia, but about what is objective.
In the second argument the discussion rests upon the definition of 'brain states under materialism being essentialy mechanical or numeric' and that therefore indeterminate qualia and meta cognition can not be represented by the brain under that definition.



Here may be where we differ. I don't consider the phrase "brain states under materialism being essentially mechanical or numeric" to have a definition (I'd certainly be surprised to find it in even the heaviest of dictionaries). I believe that the phrase "brain state" might have a definition, but the definition would be something simple like "the condition or manner of existence of a brain."

I'd also hope that that definition would be clear and acceptable to all parties in the discussion.

In the same way, the definition of "dog" would be "an animal of the genus Canus, specifically C. familiaris."

In either case, the objects under discussion may have properties that are not part of the definition; "dogs" have backbones, have fur, eat meat, and may or may not share a close common ancestor with wolves. But these aren't part of the definition. The key distinction here is that you and I have no disagreement over what does and does not constitute a dog (if I pointed at something and asked you whether it was a dog or not, we'd not disagree). We disagree about the properties, but not the identity.

Similarly, I think we both agree on what a brain state is, but we could reasonably disagree on whether it is, to use your own example, "analog" or "numeric." But you're not pointing at a mouse and asking me to consider it a dog. You're not pointing at a rock and asking me to consider it a brain.

Similarly, I believe that we have a shared and compatible definition of "materialistic." The question is not whether or not we agree on the meaning of "materialistic brain state," but whether or not the claim that "brain states are materialistic" is true. Now, of course, if you have a radically different meaning for "materialistic" than I do, then an detailed analysis of our argument may reveal the difference, but I think it's much more likely that a difference is due to our fundamental assessment of the properties of brain states than differences in definitions.
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Old 9th July 2004, 11:30 AM   #29
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by BillHoyt

Wrong. This is a public forum run by a skeptical organization. It is here to educate people. If you want to have a private discussion, then email or PM someone. If, on the other hand, you post to a public skeptical forum, you should expect to see both replies and replies to replies. You should also expect that some answers, however good they may have seemed at first, might be wrong. The post about which I commented was an example of this.
In short: "I can hijack this thread if I want to!"
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Old 9th July 2004, 03:07 PM   #30
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose

Since I am the one requesting the examples that I need, I am the one who decides whether the examples meet the criteria I stated at the beginning of the thread. I did not ask you to evaluate them as to whether they were examples of fallacies.
Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David


It is a fine tradition at the JREF that poster respond to any post they choose, as long as it is on topic of the OP it is legal in this moderated forum.
I am not looking for examples of legal posts. I am looking for examples that meet the criteria stated at the beginning of the thread. As a result, it does not assist me to spend time arguing with someone else who wants to decide what kind of examples I need.
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Old 9th July 2004, 03:32 PM   #31
BillHoyt
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linguistics and formal logic

Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose
I am not looking for examples of legal posts. I am looking for examples that meet the criteria stated at the beginning of the thread. As a result, it does not assist me to spend time arguing with someone else who wants to decide what kind of examples I need.
IndigoRose
Indigo Child,

It seems you are looking for ways to control this thread. It also seems I will not grant them to you. The reason for that is you are not trying to keep the thread on topic; you are trying to censor. And you can shove that effort up your kundalini.

And I will repeat myself and expound a bit on your topic, although you clearly haven't the acumen to understand that I am precisely on topic:
The linguistic problem classes are informal fallacies, mostly variations on the Four Term Fallacy. To understand this, you need to know basic logic.

All a are b
X is a
Therefore X is b.

That is a basic syllogism. It is sound, meaning the conclusion (third line) is guaranteed if the major premise (first line) and minor premise (second line)
are true. Notice there are only three terms in the entire structure: a, b and X.

The problem is when you move from this "quasi-mathematical" notation and substitute real words for a, b and X. That problem arises because language permits multiple meanings for a single word. An example:

"A poor lesson is better than a good lesson because a poor lesson is better than nothing, and nothing is better than a good lesson."

Put into the form of a syllogism:

A poor lesson is better than nothing
Nothing is better than a good lesson
Therefore a poor lesson is better than a good lesson.

The terms here appear to be "poor lesson", "nothing" and "good lesson." But 'nothing" is used in two different senses. It is not truly the same "nothing" of which we speak here. In the first sentence, "nothing" is really shorthand for "nothing at all" or "no lesson." In the second, "nothing" is shorthand for "there is no thing" Two very different meanings in a single word.

Obviously this syllogism is wrong. The problem here is there are four terms. They are "poor lesson", "no lesson" "there is no thing" and "good lesson." One cannot form a syllogism with four terms.

An oft-repeated instance of this fallacy occurs here at JREF. It goes like this:

If your belief system is faith-based, it is a religion
You have faith in your belief system called science
Therefore, your science belief-system, science, is a religion.
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Old 9th July 2004, 04:47 PM   #32
IndigoRose
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Quote:
Originally posted by drkitten


In the same way, the definition of "dog" would be "an animal of the genus Canus, specifically C. familiaris."

In either case, the objects under discussion may have properties that are not part of the definition; "dogs" have backbones, have fur, eat meat, and may or may not share a close common ancestor with wolves. But these aren't part of the definition. The key distinction here is that you and I have no disagreement over what does and does not constitute a dog (if I pointed at something and asked you whether it was a dog or not, we'd not disagree). We disagree about the properties, but not the identity.
An interesting point. I was going over some examples from Gould, who was comparing cladists and pheneticists, and the criteria each applies to determine the "correct" taxonomy. His example was the mountain zebra, and whether it should be categorized with the horse rather than the zebra. It was a very interesting discusion.
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Old 10th July 2004, 07:21 AM   #33
Dancing David
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Quote:
Doctor Kitten
Similarly, I think we both agree on what a brain state is, but we could reasonably disagree on whether it is, to use your own example, "analog" or "numeric." But you're not pointing at a mouse and asking me to consider it a dog. You're not pointing at a rock and asking me to consider it a brain.

Similarly, I believe that we have a shared and compatible definition of "materialistic." The question is not whether or not we agree on the meaning of "materialistic brain state," but whether or not the claim that "brain states are materialistic" is true. Now, of course, if you have a radically different meaning for "materialistic" than I do, then an detailed analysis of our argument may reveal the difference, but I think it's much more likely that a difference is due to our fundamental assessment of the properties of brain states than differences in definitions.
All very true, however in the two examples i quoted I beleiev that what is called a strawman argument is used, by defining the word 'materialistic','objective' to have a preset meaning that is not agreed upon by both people in the debate, the argument is one of prior restriction.

You're not pointing at a rock and asking me to consider it a brain.
Well actualy according to the idealists a materialist does exactly that, it is often stated that a brain would be the same as a rock rolling down a hill.

And the reason i pointed out these two arguments is that they rest upon the assertion of a definition for the wordfs involved, such as 'objective' and in the case of Titus Rivas 'numeric'. And the reason I feel they are semantic arguments is that in both cases the parties assert that thier definition is the only one that can be true. In both caes if a debater tries to expand or explain a defintion then they are told that it is not just true.

If say one tries to expand the defintion of what 'objective' means , one is likely to be sworn at by a drunken english man.
In the case of the brain states, Titus refused to condisder any possible definition other than the one he used, even when presented with data and studies to the contrary.
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Old 10th July 2004, 08:12 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David


All very true, however in the two examples i quoted I beleiev that what is called a strawman argument is used, by defining the word 'materialistic','objective' to have a preset meaning that is not agreed upon by both people in the debate, the argument is one of prior restriction.

You're not pointing at a rock and asking me to consider it a brain.
Well actualy according to the idealists a materialist does exactly that, it is often stated that a brain would be the same as a rock rolling down a hill.

And the reason i pointed out these two arguments is that they rest upon the assertion of a definition for the wordfs involved, such as 'objective' and in the case of Titus Rivas 'numeric'. And the reason I feel they are semantic arguments is that in both cases the parties assert that thier definition is the only one that can be true. In both caes if a debater tries to expand or explain a defintion then they are told that it is not just true.

If say one tries to expand the defintion of what 'objective' means , one is likely to be sworn at by a drunken english man.
In the case of the brain states, Titus refused to condisder any possible definition other than the one he used, even when presented with data and studies to the contrary.
There are many layers to the examples you've outlined. In the case of these idealist / materialist debates done here ad nauseum at JREF, these layers are also often at play:

o Equating the pragmatic materialism of science with philosophical materialism.

o Agreeing on the denotation, but hiding bags of connotations. Such as in the rock / brain case. There, the idealists are often not discussing the hidden assumptions roughly equivalent to our favorite jerk's TLOP. The connotative aspect is that material cannot act, that they are stagnant and passive. The TLOP twist makes plain the fallacies of division and composition.

o When we get to direct discussions about the fallacies of division and composition, the skeptics often raise emergence as a principle. Here, they mean the scientific definition, which the idealists choose to ignore and redefine as philosophical emergence. With that equivocation, they then dance around, claiming skeptics are suddenly invoking magic and mystery.

What is most fascinating about the whole irksome exercise is to watch many skeptics carefully delineating these problems and to watch the woos assiduously ignoring them. The inability to agree on definitions is largely one-sided. We see this same crap repeated in the "science is faith-based" and "atheism is a religion" debates.

The real punch line, however, is yet to come. Sometimes we get credophiles here who do recognize the equivocations and do recognize they've run beyond their depth or out of ammo or both. They, then, resort to the Wu defense of claiming that we level fallacy accusations inappropriately. That just because they used a fallacy doesn't mean the argument is wrong.

Welcome to the skeptic's comedy club, the house too smart for the stand-ups.
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Old 10th July 2004, 09:05 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dancing David

And the reason I feel they are semantic arguments is that in both cases the parties assert that their definition is the only one that can be true. In both caes if a debater tries to expand or explain a defintion then they are told that it is not just true.
"their definition is the only one that can be true" How do you resolve it when there is a difference in definition AND both sides wish to claim their definition is the one, true definition?
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Old 10th July 2004, 01:15 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


"their definition is the only one that can be true" How do you resolve it when there is a difference in definition AND both sides wish to claim their definition is the one, true definition?
IndigoRose
You've already been given very broad hints about where the problem resides. Dancing David said it, and I said it. The arguments being described here are clear cut. They say something. We point out the equivocation. It is then up to them to reframe the argument without the equivocation. Dancing David said the other side fails to work wiith this. I said it.

The solution is clear to reasonable people: you change the terms to agreeable ones so that the dialogue can continue. You point out the fallacy of not doing so. But, as DD said, you get sworn at by a drunk Brit (this is not hypothetical) or you get a stubborn refusal to change the terms so that a dialogue may continue.

Take the case of the "faith equivocation." Search through JREF archives and you will see this come up several times. In instance after instance, the skeptics here suggested the term for religious faith be changed to "unfounded faith." Oh, no, no can do. Okay, how about changing the description of science to be "evidence-based faith". Oh no, no can do.

The semantic problems here are not misunderstandings, but deliberate attempts to turn all issues into rhetoric and narrative issues. The broader game is to get the message across that the epistemology of science is no better than any philosophy or religion. That there is no truth.

What should be revealing about these tactics is that they are the only ones available. The people employing them have no evidence and they know they have no evidence. So, they must make the actual evidence go away.

When, however, you are working with reasonable people, you can get away from these semantic games by pointing out the equivocation and agreeing to move to clear terms. Qualify the term to remove the wiggle room.
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Old 10th July 2004, 06:58 PM   #37
Dancing David
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Quote:
Originally posted by IndigoRose


"their definition is the only one that can be true" How do you resolve it when there is a difference in definition AND both sides wish to claim their definition is the one, true definition?
IndigoRose
Hm, now that is a bit of a poser, I would say it depends upon the personlities of the people involved. Titus decided to not engage in further discussion after he had made his point.

I feel that there may not be a conclusive anwer, because of the plastic nature of language and the fact that it is a representative system.

Tow opposing arguments can resolve in the usual ways, carrying on the debate endlessly, agree to mutual language or agree to disagree.

I as a nihilist feel that words are always abstractions and therefore lacking any 'true' meaning, they are convinient short hand for other acts.

I am wary of any person, materialist or ideaslist who claims to have the one 'true' defintion.

Back to the topic:
One of the more interesting debates I participated in on this forum was about the use of the word 'victim' in a rape trial, the other person felt that it gives the accuser an unfair advantage. They also seemed to have difficulty with the idea and definition of 'consent'.
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