Tag Archives: Chocolate

Logical Gal and the difference between objective terms and subjective values

4 Nov

Last time I wrote (post dated 1 Nov 2013),

I asserted that terms were by nature objective since they are descriptive of what is.

One of the laws of the universe (no human made this up) is called the Law of Identity.  An apple IS an apple.  All the attributes on the left of the IS add up perfectly to what is on the right side.   Add or subtract one of the attributes and you no longer have an apple.

I asserted that the definition of TRUTH is straightforward – It is that which corresponds to reality.

So where do values and opinions come in to play?  Can they be subjective?

Value statements depend on the presuppositions behind them.  Presuppositions are the assumptions we make that are often hidden.  But they totally influence our conclusions, our values!

Change the presuppositions and you alter the sense of the conclusion. Presuppositions are sometimes unarticulated in a discussion.  When you have just a partial argument, it’s called an ‘enthymeme’ because the missing parts are implicit.  

“You’ll get fat!”   when fleshed out could be part of a syllogism that looks like this:

  • Eating chocolate 3x a day causes people to get fat – (Presupposition)
  • You’re eating chocolate 3 x a day – (Presupposition)
  • Therefore, you’ll get fat – (explicit enthymeme that showed up just as conclusion)

Getting fat is a fact, it’s truth.  What I mean is:  ‘adding a pound of fat to your body‘ is what might be corresponding to reality  But again, depending on one’s values, being fat is either a sign of ill health, or a sign of prosperity and beauty. (Think of Rubens’ artwork!)

 

The fact of adding fat is the truth – it’s objective.

But what it means is relative and subjective to the one creating the proposition.  In the conclusion above, the proposition being asserted is this:  You (subject) are doing something that will cause you to get fat. (predicate)

That proposition is either objectively TRUE or FALSE.

It’s subjective sense is, however, relative…..relative to the assumptions/presuppositions one holds.

Clear thinking requires the use of tools and the time to employ them.  Asking questions and parsing out terms from propositions is one tool.  Teasing out the implicit ideas behind the propositions is another.  Be a diligent detective.

Logical gal takes on claim: “Truth is relative”

1 Nov

I teach a few precocious 8th graders who take pleasure in striking the contrary pose.  The other day a lively discussion erupted at the end of the period. What got us started was the conclusion in a simple French reader, “Il n’y a pas de familles parfaites”  – there are no perfect families.  One boy disagreed saying, ‘En fait’  /actually that there ARE perfect families!  I responded with incredulity, “Really?  for how long?”   He backed down and said that his family could be perfect for ……. half a day.  But when pressed to admit the enormity of 7 family members actually ‘being perfect’ with one another for that many hours, we slipped OVER into the bunny trail of TRUTH.

Since there were only 2-3 minutes left in class, I allowed us to converse en anglais in this French 1 class.

So, what was the connection between the concept of perfect and the concept of truth?  It all started when I asked the students how they defined ‘perfect’.  I think someone piped up about perfection being relative, like truth.  I then humorously asked, “So the Law of Gravity is relative?”

Class ended as the boys were affirming that “All truth is relative”.  Had we been able to pursue this chain of thinking, I would have led them to define truth.  Defining one’s terms is always the hinge on which statements or propositions rest.

As Bill Clinton might have expressed and Pilate thought, “It all depends on what truth means!

So if truth is defined as “that which corresponds to reality“, then relativity has NO bearing on the definition.  Truth doesn’t change according to the one who is looking at it.

For example: Terminating the life of a person or animal is the act of killing.

Whether that action is justified or not, is morally good or not is another question.  Good or bad, it is still killing due to how the term is defined.  It doesn’t matter that in some cultures people are exhorted to Love their Enemies where in other societies members are taught to Eat their Enemies.  Those are moral values which DO change according to how and in what/in whom they are grounded.

Back to truth. Truth either conforms to reality or it doesn’t.  The ‘discovered’  Law of Excluded Middle tells us as much. There is NO middle possibility.

Only pseudo-sophisticated modernists claim that Truth depends on the eye of the beholder.   And my 8th grade boys, as advanced as they are for their age, have yet to be  grounded in philosophy and critical thinking.   Nevertheless, I was encouraged to witness their grappling with important ideas.   Logical thinking can be found in all disciplines, even in French class!  It’s just part of ordinary life!

Logical Gal and the Law of Excluded Middle

2 Oct

Have you ever been frustrated by someone’s quibbling?

Mom – “Who ate my chocolate?”

Kid – silence….Shrug of shoulder

Mom – “Listen, you either KNOW or you DON’T KNOW, which is it? “

Kids – “Maybe it just vaporized?”

Mom – “So you know!”

Kid – “I didn’t say I know.”

Mom – “So you don’t know!”

Kid – “I didn’t say that either,” whining because he knows he’s been caught by a logical mom!

Mom – “Based on the Law of the Excluded Middle, you have only 2 choices:  Either…….A – you know what happened to my chocolate .  Or……B – you don’t know…..Which is it, Buddy?”

Mom is relying on the 2nd of the 3 basic laws of Classical Thought – the Law of Excluded Middle.  (last time we talked about the Law of Identity)

This is very useful because it forces you to categorize an issue.   Something is either A or non-A.  There are no other choices.  This isn’t rocket science, just common intuition!

  • You’re either pregnant or you’re NOT pregnant (no such thing as a little pregnant)
  • My car is painted either black or non-black
  • You either speak Chinese or you don’t.  (What about if you speak just a little?  Then you speak Chinese!)

Turning to a deeper issue that often comes up, do you see how this law could help in a discussion about the existence of God? He either exists, or He doesn’t.  We might not know, but it’s either one or the other.

What other possibility could there be?  The picture below is TRYING to get you to think that there might be a 3rd choice, but there isn’t!   (the supposed 3rd option of ” Probably”  is meaningless!)

Here’s one guideline in organizing your either/or statement: 

  • Whatever predicate you are using, you have to frame it as A or non-A

You can’t say:  Either my car is blue or white.  That’s not true, for there are other possibilities.

So you would have to claim: “ Either my car is blue or it is non-blue”

What issues does the Law of Excluded Middle simplify for you?

Gotta stay positive

28 Aug

All Chocolate is satisfying

Ghirardelli is chocolate

Tf, Ghirardelli is not satisfying   

What???  That doesn’t make sense!

You’re right.  Our mind easily balks because Premise 1 and Premise 2 are both affirmative propositions, they are A statements.  And the senseless conclusion is a negative proposition, an E statement (No Ghirardelli is satisfying).

Below is the chart that shows the 4 kinds of propositions and their Quality (Affirmative or Negative)

Affirmative  Propositions                      Negative Propositions

in this column                                         in this column

A – All dogs are cuddly E – No dogs are cuddly
I – Some dogs are cuddly O – Some dogs are not cuddly

So, back to chocolate and the question of validity – We are continuing with our extended lesson of

  • “How to examine a syllogism and see if it’s valid”

There are 7 rules in our Validity Checklist that we must run down to determine if a syllogism is valid , that is, in the correct form.  Last time, we showed that NO conclusion whatsoever can be drawn from 2 negative propositions.  Today, we see from Rule # 6 that

  • if premise 1 & 2 are affirmative, then the conclusion MUST be affirmative as well.

So what happens if someone has asserted a negative claim about health care such as:

  • No costly plans are possible

and when you ask the person WHY??? (Whoever makes an assertion is required to back it up with reasons) he/she says:

Premise 1 – All government plans are possible

Premise 2 – All costly plans are government plans

They’ve JUST articulated two affirmative reasons for their NEGATIVE conclusion of “ No costly plans are possible”

Before you jump in (or down your conversation partner’s throat) and start giving YOUR reasons why you disagree, you have every right to encourage this person to explain what she has either

  • left out on purpose
  • left out because she is not THINKING

Remember, there is absolutely NO point in arguing about an invalid argument.  And a negative conclusion drawn from 2 affirmative premises is one of the 7 ways an argument can be deemed invalid.

An argument (syllogism) must win the ‘Good Logician’s Stamp of Validity ‘ to be considered ready to meet the next criterion – are the premises TRUE.