How do we approach a new proposition?

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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:05 am

Now, here we must address William of Ockham.

William of Ockham -- sometimes Occam -- gave us a valuable tool known as Occam's Razor. It is the command, "Do not multiply entities needlessly."

In other words, if there are two possible answers and one is simple, but the other requires a lot of additional and improbable pieces, the simpler answer is probably correct. Not always, but probably.

The bank was robbed. Was it the known bank robber who was seen casing the bank the previous day? Or was it a nun from Nebraska with Multiple Personality Disorder who happened to have a manic episode while her bipolar personality was near that particular bank, with a gun that she found while cleaning out a closet in the convent, which had been left there by Joe DiMaggio when he came to visit his former wife, Marilyn? Ockham says we should go with the bank robber as our more reasonable inference.

There might be more than one inference possible. In the example above, with the "Yes, but was he driving?" case, above, the more reasonable inference was that he was guilty, but a not-unlikely inference was that he wasn't. Coupled with presumption of innocence, the latter was the way we had to go.

So as I used to have to explain to my employees, don't make it more complicated than it has to be. If you hear hoof-beats, think of horses, not zebras.
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:07 am

So, it's time to talk about fallacies.

Basically, a fallacy is a bad method. If I try to cross the Sahara on a pogo stick, I'm not going to make it. It's a bad method. I'm using the wrong tools in the wrong ways. So it is with logic. The tools have rules. To get the desired result, we need to use them appropriately.

There are formal and informal fallacies. A formal fallacy involves the misuse of a syllogism, resulting in a non-answer -- a non-sequitor, a not-following, or nonsense. For example:

A. Affirming the Consequent.

P: If X, then Y
P: Y
C: Therefore X.

P: If today is Tuesday, it will rain.
P: It is raining.
C: Therefore it is Tuesday (but what if it also rains on Thursday?)

This is a misfire of Modus Tollens. In Modus tollens, we affirm the antecedent, not the consequent.

P: If X then Y
P: X
C: Therefore Y

P:If today is Tuesday, then it will rain.
P: Today is Tuesday
C: Take an umbrella when you leave the house.

The second formal fallacy is
B. Denying the Antecedent

P: If X then Y
P: Not X
C: Therefore Not Y?

P:If today is Tuesday, then it will rain.
P: Today is not Tuesday
C: So is it going to rain or not?

This is a misfire of Denying the Consequent, or Modus Ponens. It leads us to an uncertain conclusion.
C. The Undistributed Middle

P: X is M
P: Y is M
C: Y is X

P: Cats are mammals.
P: My sister is a mammal.
C: Therefore my sister is a cat.

A very famous riddle hinges on a series of non seqiturs, some undistributed middles, plus a pun.

Q: Why are fire engines red?
A: Because 2+2=4, 4*3=12, 12 inches make a ruler, a ruler was Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Elizabeth sails the seas, the seas are full of fish, fish have fins, the Finns fought the Reds, the Reds are called Russians, and that's why fire trucks are red: They're always rushin'.
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:03 am

Fallacies which are invoked deliberately in order to insult the opponent or to mislead the listeners are considered sophistries. They are named for a group of folks that Good Ol' Sokrates used to deflate regularly, known as the Sophists. One of their famous arguments went like this:

Q: Do you have a dog?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: You own the dog?
A: Indeed.
Q: It is thus your dog?
A: It is.
Q: Has it fathered a litter?
A: Several.
Q: Ah. The the dog is a father, and it is yours, thus it is your father, and the puppies are your siblings.

(A twisted way to say, "You, Sir, are a son of a ... dog.")

Let me say, here and now, that I would not accuse anyone on this board of such wordplay.
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:46 pm

In the informal fallacies -- of which there are dozens, if not hundreds -- Far and away the two most popular types are fallacies of category and fallacies of circular reasoning.

Fallacies of category are sometimes called "Statistical Fallacies" because they can use terms such as "most" and "usually" to create a false generalization (a false induction) from which the remainder of the argument hangs.

In circular reasoning, a premise is the same as the conclusion. All x are Y, this X is Y, all x are y.

Examples to follow.
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:28 am

Remember that all fallacies arise from failing to reason properly. Thus with proper reasoning, we can defeat most fallacies before we start. That is why we have begun with the basics, and now work our way into everyday arguments and garden-variety fallacies.

Consider this bad syllogism:

P: If it is a dog, it has fur
P: It has fur
C: therefore it is a dog.

Now, we have just committed the Formal Fallacy of affirming the consequent, but in doing so we have also committed the informal fallacy of drawing a false generalization. The fact that all dogs have fur (yes, I know, they don't all) does not mean that all furry things are dogs. We have committed a reciprocation, that is, we turned the general premise backwards.

We will generally hear this sort of fallacy raised casually. To give an example, I know a man who is of the Pentacostal denomination. On hearing this about him, people will say, "Oh, you're one of them snake-handlers." Now, for those unaware of the custom, a very small subset of Pentacostals subscribe to the practice of handling poisonous snakes during religious services. But through a false generalization, the words "Pentacostal" and "Snakehandler" have become nearly synonymous in public opinion. This is a false generalization, also known as a stereotype.

All Australians surf. All Australians wrestle crocodiles. All Australians throw shrimp on the barbie. These are all stereotypes, and all result from false generalizations. They are the logical equivalent of saying that all furry things are dogs.

False generalizations -- painting with too broad a brush -- and it's opposite, false specification -- painting with two narrow a brush -- are together known as fallacies of category.

P: Some religions are strange
C: Therefore all religions are strange (false generalization)
C: Therefore you must be one of them snake-handlers (false generalization)
P: But my practice of Taoism is a philosophy, not a religion (false specification)

We may also see (as an example) the suggestion that humans may have been "planted" on Earth by a non-human alien species of great power, and with the same breath, the utter denial that humans were specifically created by a god. This is a false specification, since the person speaking this fallacy will be unable to define a god in a way that excludes aliens, or aliens in a way that excludes gods. Try it as a thought experiment, distinguishing Spock and Thor in some meaningful way.
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:51 am

Circular reasoning has two primary forms: A premise as a conclusion (circular reasoning per se) and an outright assumption, also called "Begging the Question."

Let's suppose that we wish to prove that 2+2=4 using base 10 integers.

P: Two is half of four
P: Putting the two halves together would make an entire four
C: therefore 2+2 = 4

As you can see, both of our premises are merely restatements of the desired conclusion:
P: 2=4/2
P: 2*(4/2)=4
C: 2+2=4

We have used circular reasoning to reach our desired conclusion. On the other hand, if we simply said, "well, everyone knows that 2+2=4," we would have assumed the conclusion, with no reasoning at all, thus begging the question.* Aristotle was careful to distinguish begging the question from circular reasoning.

Proper reasoning to reach the idea that 2+2=4 would go like this:

P:For every number n, S(n) is a successor number. (Peano Axiom #6)
P: 1 is a number n.
C: 2 = S(1)

P: For every number n, S(n) is a successor number (ibid)
P: S(1) has a successor number S(S(1))or S(2), and S(S(1)) or S(2) has a successor number S(S(S(1))) or S(3) or 4
C: S(1) + S(1) = S(S(S(1))) (that is, the successor of one, succeeded twice more, renders the successor of 3, or 2+2=4)

which is a long and convoluted way to get there, which is why it's usually better that we simply reason that 2+2=4 using the simple algorithms for addition that we learned in grade school. But we could as easily assume that 2+2=17, or 243, or Sqrt-1, if we neglect using a valid algorithm.

____________________________
* Please, please, I beg of you, note that "Begging the Question" does NOT mean "Begging for someone to ask a certain question." The "Question" is the problem we re trying to solve. Jumping to a conclusion, or begging it, simply means that instead of reaching the conclusion through reasoning, we took a wild hairy guess/assumption. If you insist on putting it into a grammatical context, you could say that we are begging the listeners not to notice that we assumed the answer to the question.

But please, please, please never say, "He got off the bus, which begs the question: When did he get on the bus?" or any other such truly silly construction. I beg of you. Never use "Beg the question" to mean "Beg for us to ask the question." Please?
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:44 am

Jumping ahead a bit:

I have the impression that some of you are silently screaming, "Get on with it, Og! Put some flesh on these skeletons!"

Very well. Allow me to attempt to reason from the lowest assumptions I can manage.

To be clear, my basis for believing in God, and in Jesus Christ is quite backwards from this. In my own belief I reason from my experience towards objective reality, and not in the other direction. I know what I've seen, heard, and felt; I justify it by asking if it is reasonable; I find that it seems to be reasonable as I work my way towards first principles, looking for the turtle beneath the elephants. I take an approach that Feynman would call "bottom up," and I use the sort of problem solving that Smullyan would endorse for his puzzles.

But let's try it from the top down, in Dirac mode, with principles, if not first, then at least in the top 5 early generations.

First, all reasoning is valid only within the axioms we assume at the beginning. Euclidean geometry is only valid on a flat two-dimensional plane. Why? Because we assume a flat two-dimensional plane at the beginning. There are other forms of geometry that deal with other sets of assumptions. But those are the ones that give us Euclidean geometry.

So what do I assume?

I assume that I exist, using Descartes' cogito, and notwithstanding Satre's objection to Descartes cogito, that is, the mind which thinks is not the mind observing the thought; we cannot both think and see ourselves thinking at the same moment. I assume ad argumentum that my existence is objective, and that all of my perceptions report true objective objects -- that is, I assume I'm not in the matrix.

Given this, I find myself in a world that contains a large number of humans. We live for around 70 years -- some closer to 100, some significantly less -- and then we die. During that life, we argue, we hate, and we murder. Not all of us, and not all to the same degree. We also love, concur, and nurture. But if we were to say that we only have a fever part of the time, does that mean that we aren't sick? I submit as an inductive observation that all humans are inherently flawed with a selfishness that makes us harm other people. That is, I believe that human experience validates and affirms Paul's statements, that "There is none righteous, no not one" and "All have sinned and fall short..." (Rom 3:10,23a)

So there are two aspects of this life which raise issues for us: That we sin and that we die.

I am not original in making these observations. Every religion that I can find acknowledges the imperfections of humankind. And it is self-evident that just as every human now alive has been born, so every human now alive shall die. The Romans used to whisper into the ears of victorious generals, who were being honored with pomp and ceremony, Memento Mori, "Remember, you shall die." I affirm and validate this ancient Roman dictum. We shall all die.

So if we shall die, then why are we alive? Wait, cool your jets, Aristotle. We don't mean to ask how we came to be alive. We are not asking from what material we are made. We are not asking what accident of happenstance led to our conception. We are asking for what purpose we came into being. What question do we answer; what problem do we resolve; what meaning do we lend to the common experience?

Leo Tolstoy used to awaken in the night with these thoughts on his mind. He was a well-respected writer and nihilist philosopher. His books were renowned (and even today they define Russian literature). He had material wealth, a noble title, a loving wife, children, power, servants, lands -- There was nothing missing in his life, to the outward eye. But he would awaken and hear himself asking: "Is there something that you must accomplish with your life? If so, what is it?" (cf. My Confession, by Leo Tolstoy)

Solomon of Jerusalem had these thoughts. His book Ecclesiastes explores every possible meaning of life, and for each concludes, "It is chasing after the wind -- meaningless vanity."

Franz Kafka, in early twentieth-century Prague, struggled with these ideas. He concluded that there was no meaning at all, and that there was no possible purpose to life. He tried to explain that life did not make sense; that we could not reach justice; that our goals and ambitions are as futile as building the Great Wall of China; that life would not be that much worse if we were to awaken and find that we had transformed into giant beetles.

Albert Camus, at first, suggested that we could impose some sort of meaning on life from within life, but finally gave that up as well.

We could go on. Countless people have faced this question: What is life for? Why do we have it? What are we supposed to do with it? What does it mean?

And there we hit a wall. C.S. Lewis, in his book A Pilgrim's Regress, spoke of reaching a chasm at the end of our reasoning, and of being unable to descend into it, unable to bridge it, and unable to vault it. So let us see if we can reason it out; perhaps we are smarter than these old men.

Suppose first, for argument's sake, that life has no meaning. If that is the case then there is no good thing possible. We cannot be moral, because there is no basis for mores; we cannot be spiritual because there is no spirit. Knowing as we do that we will die, we are left with seventy or so years of doing as we please. Who can say that we're doing it right or wrong, if our actions are pointless and meaningless?

But my mind rebels against such an idea. Life seems to have meaning. It seems to have purpose. It seems as if, in the words of Solomon, we have eternity written in our hearts. We want to leave legacies, to be remembered, to have the purposes of our lives endure. If life is a pointless series of accidents, why does it seem meaningful? Why do we care whether or not it has meaning? So I will make an inductive assumption, from the fact that life, pointless or not, absolutely seems to have meaning: I assume that life has a meaning.

At the risk of seeming to play on words, let's think about that. How can life have a meaning unless there is someone who means it? How can we say that life has a purpose unless that purpose fits someone's design? How can we say that we are supposed to do x, y, and z unless there is someone who supposes that we will do such things? So if we say that life has meaning, we are implying that there is a god.
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:52 am

Now then:

Using the tools that I have supplied over the previous four pages, examine and critique this passage. Find the hidden assumptions, if any, and state whether they are valid, and if not, which formal or informal fallacies they include. Ask if the arguments are valid; apply syllogisms to determine if there is a valid form used. The consider the truth values of the premises. Which assumptions would you deny, if any, and why?
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Og3
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by Og3 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:00 pm

So now, Which God is the God? I get asked this a lot, usually when someone is trying to distract me so that they can elude some point in an unrelated discussion. But let's address it.

I take as axioms first that there is a god, as demonstrated above (within the chosen axiom set).
Axioms already chosen are that:
1. I assume that I exist
2. I assume that the apparent objective universe exists
3. I assume that all men, myself included, are flawed and tend to do bad things
4. I assume that all men, myself included, shall died (if they have not already done so)
5. I assume that life has a purpose.
Reasoning related to these is provided above. From these I draw a conclusion when then becomes an axiom for this discussion:
6. I assume that God exists.

Now, who is God?
To examine this question, we must make some additional assumptions. I assume a personal god -- after all, a distant god hiding in a distant corner of the universe doesn't really give us a purpose. By personal, I mean that God interacts with his creation, and has a personality -- can be addressed as if one were speaking man to man.
7. The true god is personal.
I further assume that the true god, if any, has existed from eternity and will exist into eternity.
8. The true god is eternal.

From these assumptions, an fairly obvious corollary presents itself. If there is an eternal, personal god, then I will not have been the first human to find him. He will have sought out the human race and spoken to them. Thus I need only look to historical religions in order to find my god. It further follows that he will not have stopped seeking human interaction, thus I can eliminate any god(s) whose worship has fallen into abeyance.

So are there religions that have begun in antiquity and which persist until today, without interruption, claiming both ancient and modern contact by a personal god? I find two close matches to this profile, and a third quasi-match. All of these are Abrahamic religions.

Beginning with the worst match first: Islam claims a heritage based on Judaism, and claims that Christians were correct at first but got it all wrong, leaving the world without the true religion for some 700 years until Mohammad set things right again. There is a break of some 700 years, which seems to go against our qualification "without interruption," but let us ignore this for the moment. Islam states that Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet. They call him Issa or Isa, and claim that as a boy, he made clay doves and blew the breath of life into them, causing them to become real birds. The Koran further states that Issa, while still in his mother's womb, spoke and declared himself a prophet. Curiously, the Koran does not attribute any miracles to Mohammad.

The problem is that Jesus/Issa could not have been a prophet. According to the New Testament, which is strangely endorsed in the Koran, Jesus went around saying that he was the son of God. I will not rehash the poached egg argument here, but it should be readily apparent that a prophet does not blaspheme the God from whom he claims to speak. But let us go one further.

The Koran tells us to follow the teachings of Jesus and of Mohammad.
The Bible tells us that only the teachings of Jesus are valid -- "No man comes to the father but by me." (John 14:6).

Suppose that we make the sort of puzzle Raymond Smullyan used to use in teaching logic. There is a sign (A) that says "Both of these signs are correct" and another (B) that says "Only this sign is correct." What conclusions can we draw about the truth value of these signs?

If A is true, then B is also true, but B says that A is false. Thus A cannot be true.
If B is true, then A is false.
Both cannot be true, because that would make A false.
Neither could be true.

So either B is true, or neither is true, but A cannot be true. Thus we can, for this reason, for the poached egg, and for the clay pigeons, dismiss the truth value of Islam.

We are left with Judaism and Christianity. Here, the dispute is simpler. Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth to fulfill and compete the pattern of revelation in Judaism. At one time in history, Christianity was considered to be a sect of Judaism, known as The Sect of the Way. For that reason, we can say that at the time of Christ, both Judaism and Christianity could have been true. They point to the same God. By elimination, we have found the true God.

So the question then becomes, was Jesus of Nazareth that God, incarnate? Did the Hebrew God die on a cross for the sins of mankind?
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SEG
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Re: How do we approach a new proposition?

Post by SEG » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:23 am

Og3 wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:44 am
I submit as an inductive observation that all humans are inherently flawed with a selfishness that makes us harm other people.
No, if that were the case our species would not survive. We are genetically wired to be socially helpful towards each other to protect ourselves from extinction.
Og3 wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:44 am
So there are two aspects of this life which raise issues for us: That we sin and that we die.
So you are assuming that there is such a thing as sin, and further assuming that there is a Christian god.
Og3 wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:44 am
Suppose first, for argument's sake, that life has no meaning. If that is the case then there is no good thing possible.
That's a non sequitur. Life can have no meaning and there could be lots of good things possible.
Og3 wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:44 am
We cannot be moral, because there is no basis for mores; we cannot be spiritual because there is no spirit. Knowing as we do that we will die, we are left with seventy or so years of doing as we please. Who can say that we're doing it right or wrong, if our actions are pointless and meaningless?
Atheists can be moral and spiritual as both of these things are subjective qualities.
But my mind rebels against such an idea. Life seems to have meaning. It seems to have purpose. It seems as if, in the words of Solomon, we have eternity written in our hearts. We want to leave legacies, to be remembered, to have the purposes of our lives endure. If life is a pointless series of accidents, why does it seem meaningful? Why do we care whether or not it has meaning? So I will make an inductive assumption, from the fact that life, pointless or not, absolutely seems to have meaning: I assume that life has a meaning.
I think that is where you are going wrong. Why does life have to have a meaning? Why should our particular species of life have any meaning at all?

I consider myself a moral person that cares about my family, friends, other humans, animals and our environment. I think that the best way to navigate through life is to try and cause the least amount of damage to others and the environment. I don't need any gods in my life, what's wrong with that?
Premise One: If a compassionate God exists, then he would do things just as a compassionate person would.
Premise Two: God doesn't do things as a compassionate person would.
Conclusion: Therefore, a compassionate God does not exist.

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