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A Freeper's Introduction to Rhetoric (Part 12, Test Your Knowledge)
Introduction to Logic | Irving M. Copi & Carl Cohen

Posted on 01/12/2004 1:22:14 PM PST by general_re

Referring to the fallacy discussions previously posted (and linked below) may be helpful before beginning.

Among the following passages, identify those in which there is a fallacy; if there is a fallacy, analyze it, give its kind (whether relevance, or presumption, or ambiguity) and its specific name.

  1. Which is more useful, the Sun or the Moon? The Moon is more useful since it gives us light during the night, when it is dark, whereas the Sun shines only in the daytime, when it is light anyway.

    — GEORGE GAMOW (inscribed in the entry hall of the Hayden Planetarium, New York City)

  2. The human brain, with a volume of roughly a quart, encompasses a space of conceptual and cognitive possibilities that is larger, by one measure at least, than the entire astronomical universe. It has this striking feature because it exploits the combinatorics of its 100 billion neurons and their 100 trillion synaptic connections with each other. Each cell-to-cell connection can be strong, or weak, or anything in between. . . . If we assume, conservatively, that each synaptic connection might have any one of 10 different strengths, then the total number of distinct configurations of synaptic weights that the brain might assume is, very roughly, 10 raised to 100 trillionth power, or 10100,000,000,000,000. Compare this with the measure of only 1087 cubic meters standardly estimated for the volume of the entire astronomical universe.

    — PAUL M. CHURCHLAND, The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey Into the Brain, MIT Press, 1995

  3. Time heals all wounds. Time is money. Therefore money heals all wounds.

    — "Ask Marilyn," Parade, 12 April 1987

  4. Revelation is a communication of something which the person to whom that thing is revealed did not know before. For if I have done a thing or seen it done, it needs no revelation to tell me I have done it or seen it, or to enable me to tell it or to write it. Revelation, therefore, cannot be applied to anything done upon earth, of which man himself is the actor or the witness; and consequently, all the historical and anecdotal parts of the Bible, which is almost the whole of it, is not within the meaning and compass of the word revelation, and therefore is not the word of God.

    — THOMAS PAINE, The Age of Reason, part I, p. 13

  5. The average earnings of workers with a high school education remain significantly above those of the less educated, and the earnings of workers with a college education now dwarf those of the high school educated. . . . Society as a whole also benefits from education. The nation is strengthened economically by having workers with more and better skills. . . . The more educated are more prone to vote in local and national elections, and a better-informed and more responsible electorate improves the workings of a democratic society. Increases in the level of education are also associated with reductions in crime. Education has also helped to achieve greater social equality in the distribution of economic resources. . . . It is safe to say that education has been a good investment both for society and for individuals.

    — ERIC A. HANUSHEK, Making Schools Work, Brookings Institution, 1994

  6. An outstanding person is always "out of step" in some respects. If he were entirely "in step" he would be no different from anyone else and hence, by definition, not outstanding.

    — EDWARD SHILS, "More at Home Than Out of Step," The American Scholar, Autumn 1987, p. 577

  7. Mysticism is one of the great forces of the world's history. For religion is nearly the most important thing in the world, and religion never remains for long altogether untouched by mysticism.

    — JOHN MCTAGGART ELLIS MCTAGGART, "Mysticism," Philosophical Studies

  8. Mr. Stace says that my writings are "extremely obscure," and this is a matter as to which the author is the worst of all possible judges. I must therefore accept his opinion. As I have a very intense desire to make my meaning plain, I regret this.

    — BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Reply to Criticisms," in P. A. Schilpp. ed., The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (Evanston, IL: The Library of Living Philosophers), p. 707

  9. For the benefit of those representatives who have not been here before this year, it may be useful to explain that the item before the General Assembly is that hardy perennial called the "Soviet item." It is purely a propaganda proposition, not introduced with a serious purpose of serious action, but solely as a peg on which to hang a number of speeches with a view to getting them into the press of the world. This is considered by some to be very clever politics. Others, among whom the present speaker wishes to be included, consider it an inadequate response to the challenge of the hour.

    — HENRY CABOT LODGE, speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 30 November 1953

  10. The war-mongering character of all this flood of propaganda in the United States is admitted even by the American press. Such provocative and slanderous aims clearly inspired today's speech by the United States Representative, consisting only of impudent slander against the Soviet Union, to answer which would be beneath our dignity. The heroic epic of Stalingrad is impervious to libel. The Soviet people in the battles at Stalingrad saved the world from the fascist plague and that great victory which decided the fate of the world is remembered with recognition and gratitude by all humanity. Only men dead to all shame could try to cast aspersions on the shining memory of the heroes of that battle.

    — ANATOLE M. BARANOVSKY, speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 30 November 1953

  11. Prof. Leon Kass reports a notable response to an assignment he had given students at the University of Chicago. Compose an essay, he asked, about a memorable meal you have eaten. One student wrote as follows:

    I had once eaten lunch with my uncle and my uncle's friend. His friend had once eaten lunch with Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was once a man of great spirituality. Therefore, by the law of the syllogism, I had once eaten lunch with God. And, as Einstein had habitually expressed in reaction to the quantum theory: Gott wurfelt nicht . . . God does not play dice.

    — LEON KASS, The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, 1995

  12. If Utilitarianism be true it would be one's duty to try to increase the numbers of a community, even though one reduced the average total happiness of the members, so long as the total happiness in the community would be in the least increased. It seems perfectly plain to me that this kind of action, so far from being a duty, would quite certainly be wrong.

    — C. D. BROAD, Five Types of Ethical Theory

  13. . . . it is only when it is believed that I could have acted otherwise that I am held to be morally responsible for what I have done. For a man is not thought to be morally responsible for an action that it was not in his power to avoid.

    — ALFRED J. AYER, "Freedom and Necessity," Polemic, no. 5, 1946

  14. Whether we are to live in a future state, as it is the most important question which can possibly be asked, so it is the most intelligible one which can be expressed in language.

    — JOSEPH BUTLER, "Of Personal Identity"

  15. If you hold that nothing is self-evident, I will not argue with you for it is clear that you are a quibbler and are not to be convinced.

    — DUNS SCOTUS, Oxford Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard

  16. Thomas Carlyle said of Walt Whitman that he thinks he is a big poet because he comes from a big country.

    — ALFRED KAZIN, "The Haunted Chamber," The New Republic, 23 June 1986, p. 39

  17. If we want to know whether a state is brave we must look to its army, not because the soldiers are the only brave people in the community, but because it is only through their conduct that the courage or cowardice of the community can be manifested.

    — R. L. NETTLESHIP, Lectures on the Republic of Plato

  18. As the American Revolution began to appear likely, some Americans sought reconciliation with England; Thomas Paine opposed reconciliation bitterly. In Common Sense (1776), he wrote:

    . . . all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this Continent than all the other three.

  19. If science wishes to argue that we cannot know what was going on in [the gorilla] Binti's head when she acted as she did, science must also acknowledge that it cannot prove that nothing was going on. It is because of our irresolvable ignorance, as much as fellow-feeling, that we should give animals the benefit of doubt and treat them with the respect we accord ourselves.

    — MARTIN ROWE and MIA MACDONALD, "Let's Give Animals Respect They Deserve," New York Times, 26 August 1996.

  20. I know that she's sick, but that's not my problem. She's needed at the shop, and when an employee is sent supervisor, that employee is expected to show up.

  21. When we had got to this point in the argument, and everyone saw that the definition of justice had been completely upset, Thrasymachus, instead of replying to me, said: "Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?"
    "Why do you ask such a question," I said, "when you ought rather to be answering?"
    "Because she leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose; she has not even taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep."

    — PLATO, The Republic

  22. Clarence Darrow, renowned criminal trial lawyer, began one shrewd plea to a jury thus:

    You folks think we city people are all crooked, but we city people think you farmers are all crooked. There isn't one of you I'd trust in a horse trade, because you'd be sure to skin me. But when it comes to having sympathy with a person in trouble. I'd sooner trust you folks than city folks, because you come to know people better and get to be closer friends.

    — IRVING STONE, Clarence Darrow for the Defense

  23. The most blatant occurrence of recent years is all these knuckleheads running around protesting nuclear power — all these stupid people who do not research at all and who go out and march, pretending they care about the human race, and then go off in their automobiles and kill one another.

    — RAY BRADBURY, in Omni, October 1979

  24. When Copernicus argued that the Ptolemaic astronomy (holding that the celestial bodies all revolved around the earth) should be replaced by a theory holding that the earth (along with all the other planets) revolves around the sun, hewas ridiculed by many of the scientists of his day, including one of the greatest astronomers of that time, Clavius, who wrote in 1581:

    Both [Copernicus and Ptolemy] are in agreement with the observed phenomena. But Copernicus's arguments contain a great many principles that are absurd. He assumed, for instance, that the earth is moving with a triple motion . . .[but] according to the philosophers a simple body like the earth can have only a simple motion. . . . Therefore it seems to me that Ptolemy's geocentric doctrine must be preferred to Copernicus's doctrine.

  25. All of us cannot be famous, because all of us cannot be well known.

    — JESSE JACKSON, quoted in The New Yorker, 12 March 1984

  26. The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment.

    — JONATHAN EDWARDS, "The Pit of Hell" (1741)



TOPICS: Education; Miscellaneous; Reference; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: argument; crevolist; fallacies; fallacy; logic; reason; rhetoric
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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Previous installments:

Part 1 - Introduction and the Argument From Ignorance
Part 2 - the Appeal to Inappropriate Authority
Part 3 - the Argument Ad Hominem
Part 4 - the Appeal to Force and the Appeal to Emotion
Part 5 - the Irrelevant Conclusion
Part 6 - Fallacies of Presumption and the Complex Question
Part 7 - False Cause and Begging the Question
Part 8 - Accident and Converse Accident
Part 9 - Fallacies of Ambiguity and Equivocation
Part 10 - Amphiboly and Accent
Part 11 - Composition and Division

1 posted on 01/12/2004 1:22:15 PM PST by general_re
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To: longshadow; PatrickHenry; Woahhs; P.O.E.; No More Gore Anymore; jigsaw; Snake65; RobFromGa; ...
Part 12 - test your knowledge.

Some selections may not contain true fallacies. Some selections may contain fallacies that are debatable or questionable as to whether it's really a fallacy. Some selections may contain more than one fallacy. Some may contain unusually subtle errors. That's life, so if you can spot most of the errors in the erroneous passages with a bit of effort, you should be well-armed to spot them "in the wild" ;)

2 posted on 01/12/2004 1:26:42 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: *crevo_list; VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Physicist; LogicWings; ...
PING. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
3 posted on 01/12/2004 1:31:10 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: general_re
They all look pretty logical to me.
4 posted on 01/12/2004 1:37:04 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: general_re
A test? Is this a take-home? Can we work in groups?
5 posted on 01/12/2004 1:42:42 PM PST by RightWhale (How many technological objections will be raised?)
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To: PatrickHenry
You may wish to review the material before beginning ;)
6 posted on 01/12/2004 1:44:25 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: RightWhale
This is an open-book, open-notes exam, where collaboration and discussion is encouraged, and counts for zero points towards your final grade... :^)
7 posted on 01/12/2004 1:45:15 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: general_re
Number one bears some relation to: "Your mission will be to travel to the Sun. You won't burn up, however. We'll wait until night."
8 posted on 01/12/2004 1:50:12 PM PST by VadeRetro
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To: general_re
25. All of us cannot be famous, because all of us cannot be well known.
— JESSE JACKSON, quoted in The New Yorker, 12 March 1984
It may not be logical, but it's certainly consistent with everything else I've ever heard from that source.
9 posted on 01/12/2004 2:23:53 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: general_re
Good examples. Next time it might be interesting to give the examples right off the bat and then go into rules and methods. Linguists are building databases of uninterrupted text of millions of words and looking for rules of syntax that might have not been noticed up to now. These examples could serve as a start of a fallacy database, rules, both normative and logical, to follow.
10 posted on 01/12/2004 2:24:42 PM PST by RightWhale (How many technological objections will be raised?)
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To: general_re
The most blatant occurrence of recent years is all these knuckleheads running around protesting nuclear power — all these stupid people who do not research at all and who go out and march, pretending they care about the human race, and then go off in their automobiles and kill one another. (Ray Bradbury)

Don't see the fallacy and, at any rate, he ain't wrong.

11 posted on 01/12/2004 2:29:49 PM PST by VadeRetro
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To: general_re
LI>Time heals all wounds. Time is money. Therefore money heals all wounds.

— "Ask Marilyn," Parade, 12 April 1987

Hmmm... This depends on Time really equalling money. Now, the expression "time is money" really means there is an opportunity cost to spending time on something. So, does money cost time? Yes! You must spend time to earn money. So the expression works both ways. IOW, time & money really are equivalent in some sense that's important to us.

So what about the first part? "Time heals all wounds." That's intuitively true, but is it because of time acting alone, or is it because of all the other things we do during that time that let us get on with our lives? If it's the latter, then maybe money - which makes many new distracting activities possible - really does heal all wounds!

12 posted on 01/12/2004 2:59:58 PM PST by jennyp (http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: general_re
If Utilitarianism be true it would be one's duty to try to increase the numbers of a community, even though one reduced the average total happiness of the members, so long as the total happiness in the community would be in the least increased. It seems perfectly plain to me that this kind of action, so far from being a duty, would quite certainly be wrong.

— C. D. BROAD, Five Types of Ethical Theory

I think the fallacy here is assuming that you can assign an amount of happiness or unhappiness to the state of never having been born in the first place. If a never-been-born child represents total unhappiness, then yes, producing him/her would increase the total H, no matter how unhappy their life was.

But you really can't assign a value, good or bad, to the life that never existed in the first place. So the equation is invalid.

13 posted on 01/12/2004 3:04:42 PM PST by jennyp (http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: general_re
13. . . . it is only when it is believed that I could have acted otherwise that I am held to be morally responsible for what I have done. For a man is not thought to be morally responsible for an action that it was not in his power to avoid.
— ALFRED J. AYER, "Freedom and Necessity," Polemic, no. 5, 1946
Other than placing the premise last, what in the world is wrong with that?
14 posted on 01/12/2004 4:42:14 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: VadeRetro
The fallacies employed by those whom we oppose are very often easier to spot than those employed by those with whom we are predisposed to agree ;)

Tu quoque.

15 posted on 01/12/2004 7:52:30 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: jennyp
Keep in mind that the passage presented may be describing a fallacy, rather than being a fallacy itself - 16 is a good example of this.

You may find the context of that passage interesting. The full text of Broad's Five Types of Ethical Theory is available here, and the passage in question is in this section.

16 posted on 01/12/2004 8:00:19 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: PatrickHenry
Other than placing the premise last, what in the world is wrong with that?

Who said that every passage was fallacious? ;)

17 posted on 01/12/2004 8:01:34 PM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: general_re
"Be what you would seem to be -- or, if you'd like to put it more simply -- Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." -- Lewis Carroll
18 posted on 01/12/2004 10:54:55 PM PST by T'wit (There is only one form of government: too much)
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To: T'wit
Clear as mud, as usual ;)
19 posted on 01/13/2004 4:28:48 AM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: general_re
24. Clavius, who wrote in 1581:
Both [Copernicus and Ptolemy] are in agreement with the observed phenomena. But Copernicus's arguments contain a great many principles that are absurd [ding, ding, ding!]. He assumed, for instance, that the earth is moving with a triple motion . . .[but] according to the philosophers [ding, ding, ding!] a simple body like the earth can have only a simple motion. . . . Therefore it seems to me that Ptolemy's geocentric doctrine must be preferred to Copernicus's doctrine.
Hmmmmm ... this is a difficult one. Nevertheless, I shall stick my neck out and suggest that the red flag went up when I spotted a poisoning of the well; and the green flag is for a woeful appeal to authority.
20 posted on 01/13/2004 7:09:34 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
I concur with the second part. I'm not so sure about the red flag, but that's a supportable position you have, I think.
21 posted on 01/13/2004 7:14:21 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: PatrickHenry; general_re
Both [Copernicus and Ptolemy] are in agreement with the observed phenomena.

This wasn't really true by 1581. Ptolemaic models had to assume "epicycles," orbits within orbits, to account for the motion of the planets other than Earth. That is, their motions weren't "proper" either. They wheeled about invisible foci for reasons utterly unknown. Thus, the Ptolemaic system was the one unnecessarily multiplying conjectural elements, in Occam's Razor terms. So you can add the fallacy of "false premise."

22 posted on 01/13/2004 7:45:38 AM PST by VadeRetro
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To: general_re
All right. I'll tackle this one:
1. Which is more useful, the Sun or the Moon? The Moon is more useful since it gives us light during the night, when it is dark, whereas the Sun shines only in the daytime, when it is light anyway.
— GEORGE GAMOW (inscribed in the entry hall of the Hayden Planetarium, New York City)
Although Gamow was -- presumably -- saying this as a joke, it's entirely in accord with Genesis:
1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
[Thus, there was light before the sun, as Gamow assumes.]
1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
So I'd say that Gamow's statement is logical in form. It is, however, based upon the premise that the Genesis model is a scientifically accurate description of day and night and the function of the sun and moon.
23 posted on 01/13/2004 8:26:53 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry; general_re
Actually, Gamow's argument looks like false cause, only it looks more like failure to infer true cause. It ignores the important point that the Sun is responsible for daylight.
24 posted on 01/13/2004 8:33:59 AM PST by VadeRetro
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To: VadeRetro; PatrickHenry
Actually, Gamow's argument looks like false cause...

I agree. Points for creativity to PH, though ;)

25 posted on 01/13/2004 8:37:56 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: VadeRetro
It ignores the important point that the Sun is responsible for daylight.

That's quite an assumption on your part, evolution-boy! Prove to me in the lab that without the sun there would be no daylight. You can't, can you? Nya, nya, nyaaaaaaah!

26 posted on 01/13/2004 8:41:43 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Correlation is not causation, as they say....
27 posted on 01/13/2004 8:44:46 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
4. Revelation is a communication of something which the person to whom that thing is revealed did not know before. [Keep that definition in mind.] For if I have done a thing or seen it done, it needs no revelation to tell me I have done it or seen it, or to enable me to tell it or to write it. Revelation, therefore, cannot be applied to anything done upon earth, of which man himself is the actor or the witness; and consequently, all the historical and anecdotal parts of the Bible, which is almost the whole of it, is not within the meaning and compass of the word revelation, and therefore is not the word of God. [Ding, ding, ding!]]
— THOMAS PAINE, The Age of Reason, part I, p. 13
This is interesting. Paine starts out defining revelation as "a communication of something which the person to whom that thing is revealed did not know before." Fair enough. At the end, however, he makes the all-new assumption that the word of God (not previously defined) consists only of "revelation" as previously defined. This conclusion is unwarranted by his premise.
28 posted on 01/13/2004 8:57:22 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
This conclusion is unwarranted by his premise.

And therefore, this is an example of the fallacy of....?

29 posted on 01/13/2004 9:27:41 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
What is this, a test of thinking ... or bookkeeping?
30 posted on 01/13/2004 10:00:26 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
It's a test of the ability to follow directions. Jeez. I bet you insisted on coloring outside the lines, too...

...if there is a fallacy, analyze it, give its kind (whether relevance, or presumption, or ambiguity) and its specific name.

31 posted on 01/13/2004 10:05:04 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
All right [grumble, grumble]. It's a fallacy of presumption. Paine leaps to an unjustified assumption about the word of God.
32 posted on 01/13/2004 10:09:32 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Yearrrgh. You have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, grasshopper. Back up and reconsider your last post, specifically "This conclusion is unwarranted by his premise."

If the premises do not establish the conclusion - which is another way of saying that the conclusion does not follow from the premises - then what is the relationship between premises and conclusion?

33 posted on 01/13/2004 10:20:25 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
If the premises do not establish the conclusion - which is another way of saying that the conclusion does not follow from the premises - then what is the relationship between premises and conclusion?

There is no relationship. The conclusion is irrelevant. More precisly, the conclusion is a non sequitur. In your essays, it is a fallacy of relevance, or in the terminology of the series, an ignoratio elenchi.

Sheesh, what a grouch!

34 posted on 01/13/2004 10:27:34 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Exactly so. Like a ray of light bursting forth from behind the clouds... ;)
35 posted on 01/13/2004 10:45:14 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
7. Mysticism is one of the great forces of the world's history. For religion is nearly the most important thing in the world, and religion never remains for long altogether untouched by mysticism.
— JOHN MCTAGGART ELLIS MCTAGGART, "Mysticism," Philosophical Studies
Another subtle one. To restate it:
1. Mysticism is one of the great forces of the world's history, because:
2. Religion is nearly the most important thing, and
3. religion never remains for long altogether untouched by mysticism.
So, McTaggert says that because mysticism is usually (but not always) associated with religion, and because we know (it's presumably a given) that religion is important, therefore mysticism too is important. Hmmmmm. The assumption here is that a frequent (but not constant) component of religion is important because religion itself is important. A characteristic of the whole (importance) is being attributed to a portion of the whole.

This is the fallacy of division, arguing fallaciously that what is true of a whole must also be true of its parts.

36 posted on 01/13/2004 12:17:14 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
You know, I don't actually have the (official) answers here, so I've been meditating on some of these myself. Some are immediately obvious, and some are rather more subtle. I like your reasoning here, and I agree with the case you make, even though I arrived at a rather different assessment, which I will present without the Socratic interrogation this time ;)

The key, to my mind, is when McTaggart essentially defines religion and mysticism as equivalent. It goes like this:

P: Mysticism is religion, and;
Q: Religion is important, therefore;
R: Mysticism is important.

The trick is that "mysticism is important" and "religion is important" are logically equivalent once you define religion as equivalent to mysticism - If "religion=mysticism", then one proposition is what you might call a suitable paraphrase of the other. In a more bare-bones form, the argument is:

P: X
Q: X=Y
R: Therefore, Y.

But if X and Y are really equivalent, then X and Y have, effectively, the same propositional content - they are, in a real sense, the same identical proposition in both cases. And if X and Y are the same proposition, then saying "X=Y" is really the same as saying "X=X", and the argument is revealed as:

P: X
Q: X=X
R: Therefore, X.

So what you're doing when you define religion as important, then say that religion is equivalent to mysticism, and derive from that the conclusion that mysticism is important, your conclusion is logically equivalent to your first proposition - the conclusion is simply a clever restatement of one of the premises. And that's begging the question - you cannot assume the truth of the conclusion in your premises.

This is one of my favorite examples - we tend to be presented with trivial examples of petitio, where the circle is blatant and obvious. But most people are smart enough to avoid blatantly coming out and saying "X=Y=X", and this is a good example of how damned subtle the fallacy of begging the question can be.

37 posted on 01/13/2004 1:34:59 PM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
In order for the reasoning to be clearer, the very first form I present should really have P and Q switch places, like so:

P: Religion is important, and;
Q: Mysticism is religion, therefore;
R: Mysticism is important.

That way, the X's and Y's are more coherent in the following form:

P: X
Q: X=Y (or "Y=X", to be consistent)
R: Therefore, Y.

38 posted on 01/13/2004 1:40:07 PM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
The trick is that "mysticism is important" and "religion is important" are logically equivalent once you define religion as equivalent to mysticism - If "religion=mysticism", then one proposition is what you might call a suitable paraphrase of the other.

Close. But he never comes out and directly says that mysticism equals religion. If he did, you'd be right, but the example would be too trivial to concern us. So maybe it's a quibble, but I don't think this example involves begging the question. At least it doesn't seem to be a particularly clear example of this.

On the other hand, my analysis isn't entirely justified by the text either; because McTaggert never specifically says that mysticism is a component of religion (which it almost certainly is, at least in the West). Instead, he ambiguously says "religion never remains for long altogether untouched by mysticism." Whatever that means.

This example may ultimately involve the fallacy of amphiboly, because of the lack of clarity in the argument. It really is terrible writing.

39 posted on 01/13/2004 4:19:12 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
I think my analysis works just as well if we change it to read "religion implies mysticism" rather than "religion is mysticism", and that's rather easier to derive from the text, although I agree it's a mess in terms of clarity of meaning. But no matter what, "religion never remains for long altogether untouched by mysticism" means that religion and mysticism are always connected somehow - where there is religion, there will always be mysticism, is the only way to read "religion never remains...untouched by mysticism". Whether that's because mysticism is seen as a component of religion, as your analysis suggests, or because it's a consequence of religion, as mine suggests, really matters not - either way, it's a fallacy. That's why I liked your approach, because it covers the other of the two possible interpretations that I see. And with some minor tweaking, your approach will cover the final route of escape - rather than suggesting that mysticism is a component of religion as you have done, suggesting that religion is a component of mysticism will also lead one into fallacious reasoning, the explication of which is left as an exercise for the reader... ;)
40 posted on 01/14/2004 6:05:49 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: jennyp
"Time is Money" only works in one direction. That is, time can be transformed into money. You can use your time to work, and earn money. Or you can put money in your savings account, and given enough time, the interests will accumulate to any sum.

The opposite however, is not true. Money can not be transformed in time. If it could, old billionaires would spend it to buy extra years for their lives.

So time and money are not completely equivalent, which means that you cannot just substitute the word 'time' with 'money' in any sentence.
41 posted on 01/14/2004 11:00:46 AM PST by LouisianaLobster
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To: LouisianaLobster
The opposite however, is not true. Money can not be transformed in time. If it could, old billionaires would spend it to buy extra years for their lives.

I don't think this statement is true. Anyone who saves up money & spends it on a vacation has bought time - free time, at least, and presumably it's time being spent on something they'd rather be doing than working.

Also, when we spend money on any labor-saving device we're exchanging money for time. IOW, we spent time to make money, which we used to buy a labor-saving device which saves us time. So we spent time to make time, with a conversion into money and a second conversion out of money in the middle. In that case I think it does work both ways.

42 posted on 01/14/2004 12:42:10 PM PST by jennyp (http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: jennyp
What you say is true. You can paint your own kitchen, but you can also pay someone to do it for you. In that case you have bought/saved time with your money.

However, in the case of "Time heals all wounds" this is not the case. You cannot pay someone else to do your grieving, and you can't buy a machine to do it for you. You just have to 'sit it out', and this sort of time can't be bought.
43 posted on 01/14/2004 1:53:01 PM PST by LouisianaLobster
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To: general_re
8. Mr. Stace says that my writings are "extremely obscure," and this is a matter as to which the author [Russell speaking in the third person about himself] is the worst of all possible judges. I must therefore accept his opinion. [Ding, ding, ding!] As I have a very intense desire to make my meaning plain, I regret this.

— BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Reply to Criticisms," in P. A. Schilpp. ed., The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell (Evanston, IL: The Library of Living Philosophers), p. 707

Russell is obviously being silly here, effecting a most uncharacteristic humility. He is sarcastically accepting the criticism of someone he may well regard as a fool, merely because it would be -- to his critics -- arrogant for Russell to point out the great clarity of his writings, and presumably the large number of people who would agree with that assessment. (Personally, I've always found Russell to be extremely clear in his prose.)

Anyway, he's pretending to accept a conclusion for the reason that he is too ignorant to judge whether it may in fact be right or wrong. This is probably an Argument Ad Ignorantiam, but I'm not certain of this. It's fairly common, as when people refuse to examine a matter, saying: "Who am I to judge?"

44 posted on 01/15/2004 7:06:25 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Hmmm. I think you're overthinking this one, although if Russell had included the full quote from Stace (which I don't have handy), it would have been helpful. If I say "Joe Blow is an extremely obscure historical figure", what do I generally mean by that?
45 posted on 01/15/2004 7:38:22 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
If I say "Joe Blow is an extremely obscure historical figure", what do I generally mean by that?

Ah, I had missed the ambiguity. There is a potential double meaning in: "Mr. Stace says that my writings are 'extremely obscure' ..." I had assumed that the critic was saying Russell's writings lack clarity; and I ignored the other meaning, as in "Russell is an all-but-forgotten writer." But I don't think that's the fallacy we're supposed to spot. Russell goes on to say: "As I have a very intense desire to make my meaning plain ..." so I think, from the context, that the potential ambiguity is one which we can ignore. I'll stick with my analysis.

46 posted on 01/15/2004 8:41:42 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Russell goes on to say: "As I have a very intense desire to make my meaning plain ..."

That's my point - I think Stace probably intended it in the sense of Russell being an unknown, unread writer, but Russell (intentionally) chose to take it as meaning that his work was unclear. Hence, Russell engaged in a bit of equivocation about the meaning of the word "obscure" as a flippant way of dismissing a critic that he didn't take all that seriously to begin with - if you're familiar with Stace, it's not at all surprising that Russell didn't take him particularly seriously.

And the ultimate irony is, of course, that nowadays, sixty-odd years later, W.T. Stace is the one who is obscure, albeit perhaps not "extremely" obscure ;)

47 posted on 01/15/2004 9:26:13 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
I think Stace probably intended it in the sense of Russell being an unknown, unread writer ...

I donno ... That's a difficult interpretation for me. Russell, during his lifetime, was an international celebrity. The only thing that makes sense (to me) is that the critic was talking about the clarity of Russell's his writing -- and that too is nonsensical. Either way, it was neat for Russell, whose reputation for brilliance was unquestioned, to dismiss someone he regarded as a hack critic by saying: "Well, I guess you must be right." I'll still stick with my analysis, but I've been wrong before. As you know, in his declining years, Russell became a kook for pacifism, but in his prime he was awesome.

48 posted on 01/15/2004 11:13:39 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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To: PatrickHenry
I think Stace intended it as an insult, to be truthful. While Stace is obscure these days, it wasn't always so. His main bag was mysticism, and an attempt to explore mystical experiences (visions, revelations, dreams, et cetera) as though they were real phenomena, indicative of some reality external to oneself. Given that, it should hardly be surprising that he had little use for Russell, and Russell for him. But like I said, these days, Stace is the obscure one, getting what little play he gets in New-Agey crystal-gripping circles, although he did enjoy a bit of a resurgence in the '60's with the Timothy Leary/Carlos Castaneda-types, for obvious reasons.
49 posted on 01/15/2004 11:24:49 AM PST by general_re ("Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." - Bernard Berenson)
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To: general_re
So what was Russell's fallacy?
50 posted on 01/15/2004 11:35:29 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Everything good that I have done, I have done at the command of my voices.)
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