Tag Archives: Government Shutdown

Logical Gal and how disjunctive syllogisms help us

16 Oct

Either our government will find a solution for the budget impasse or our country will fall apart.

Our government is working hard to find a solution 

Therefore, it is unlikely that our country will fall apart

Voilà – a proper disjunctive (either/or) syllogism. (Whether it’s true or not, that’s ANOTHER question!)

This way of framing choices is very useful.  Sometimes, however, there are more than 2 options.  And when someone forces you to make a choice, between the two, it is RIGHT to balk and suggest others if they appear to you.

Moms do this frequently, when they are trying to get a child to do something he or she does NOT want to do:

” You can clean your room before going to bed tonight or before going out to play tomorrow morning”

A logical child might say, “Mom, that’s a false dilemma.  How about if I pay my brother to clean my room?  Would that satisfy you?”  Poor Mom!  She had better bone up on logic.

As important as parenting is,  let me direct us to a more serious subject – fear and faith.  The last two days as I’ve been following my Bible reading plan, I’ve come across the same verse in two gospels.  Both Mark 5:36 and Luke 8:50 record Jesus encouraging someone with this logic:  Do not fear, only trust and rely on God. 

The Greek word ‘believe’  or Pisteou (Strong’s 4100)  can be translated this way:  to trust, to believe, to rely on, to put faith in, to entrust, to lean on

The two options are a proper disjunctive – we can either fear circumstances, people, our propensity to make the same mistakes over and over….OR…we can commit our concerns, situations and problems  to God and rely on Him for His help, wisdom, grace, presence, protection and solution.  We can’t do a little of each – simultaneously fearing and trusting. Just think about it:  if we are relying on someone or something, then we are looking to them/it.  And if we are consumed with fear, we are NOT looking at our source of rescue.

Picture a toddler clinging for dear life to MOM.  She is NOT confused about the one she is trusting, clinging to, relying on.

I’ve been helped in a real way these past couple of days as I’ve reminded myself of the fact that there are ONLY TWO CHOICES.  Who wouldn’t want to rely on the God of the Universe who actually promises to supply our needs.  I’m also reminded of God’s  words to us  as spoken through James, half-brother of Jesus, “You have not because you ask not.” 

Logical Gal says “Not even good enough to be a False Analogy”

7 Oct

This government shutdown has everyone mad, on both sides of the political spectrum.

But that is no excuse for lazy or poor thinking!  Actually, the only good excuse for faulty thinking, is that you haven’t been internalizing  these blog posts!

Last night, my husband read me a letter written to the editor of our local paper.  In it, the author compared the Republican Congress to a child who condemns his parent for not negotiating with him.  In the imagined scenario,  the youngster wants to stay up late and Dad says “No!”  The child then actually threatens to smash things in the house if he doesn’t get his way.  The letter writer asks rhetorically, ” What should the parent do?”

I’m sure he felt clever for creating this analogy.  But it fails.  It’s not even a PROPER false analogy.  Why not? The relationship between threatening child and firm parent is NOT at all similar to the relationship between the Republican-majority Congress and the President.  A twelve-year old who has had some civics could probably recall that our Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances.  One of the attributes of the federal system of organizing government is that there are three branches:  Legislative (Congress), Executive (the President) and the Judicial (Supreme Court).  They are equal in stature.

The relationship of defiant child to firm father is not similar.  My dad would have accused the letter writer of  ‘comparing apples with oranges’.  Sure they are both fruits, but that is all you can say!

Back to our non-functioning  government.  All three branches are ON the same level. Therefore, the Executive branch AND the Legislative branch should strive to work together.  That is responsible government.  Isn’t that the expectation of ‘We the People’  who elect both the President and our Representatives?

So what is a False Analogy? – it’s a kind of faulty thinking that assumes that because two items have one characteristic  in common, they share others as well.  I think the letter writer painted a scenario that shows no similarity to our present crisis.

At best his example might be able to be worded like this:

Some kids defy their parents and parents should not give in.

Congress is defying the President 

Therefore, he should not give in

This is not even a GOOD false analogy!  The President and Congress are supposed to work together!!

(Thank you, Michael, for pointing out this example of poor thinking! I’m blessed to be married to a man whose first words in my presence were from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living!”)