Apr 5, 2014

Solutions to 'Structuring our Intuitions' - I

Dear All,
Lets discuss the solutions (at least a few takes) to the previous assignment.

1. God is Divine

Abhishek: 1A. There do not seem to be separate premises and conclusions here. The statement is presented to us as a fact. Possibility - The statement is the premise. But we have not been given reason to believe in the premise. Thus, even though some potential argument based on this premise could be made and could be "valid", it would not be "sound". Thus, the argument is not "persuasive".

1B. Possibility - The statement is the conclusion. We are not given any reasons to come to the conclusion that "God is Divine". We are left asking - "Why is God Divine?" Thus, this appears to be a form of the "begging the question" type of fallacy

Me: Yes, it's like saying: "A point is a circle with zero dimensions. (and what is a circle - its a set of points at a certain distance from a common point)". "Divine" means "Of or like God" so it is a tautology (statement which is always true), since whether God exists or not, the idea / person of God will always be like the idea of the person of God. This is no argument.

1. Love is like a rainbow. It looks good from far away, but the moment you get closer to it, it disappears. Hence love is but an illusion.
2A. Restructuring the argument

Premise 1 - Love looks good from far away.
Premise 2 - The moment one gets closer to love, it vanishes.
Conclusion 1 - Love is like a rainbow.
Conclusion 2 - Love is nothing but an illusion.
Unspoken premises - 
Premise 3 - A rainbow looks good from far away.
Premise 4 - The moment one gets closer to a rainbow, it vanishes.
Premise 5 (Conclusion from Premise 4???)- A rainbow is an illusion.
2B. Premises 3 is a subjective issue. Different people may have different views on whether a rainbow appears good from afar (aesthetic ambiguity). A potential question - "Does a rainbow appear good from afar?" has not been addressed. Instead, a general statement has been made that is debatable. Thus, this represents the fallacies - "hasty generalization" and "begging the question". (The arguer is not trying to prove that rainbows look good. He is simply trying to use a common perception. You may find the argument non-persuasive due to this assumption. This could be an 'Argument from Ignorance')
2C. Premise 4 is persuasive as it is based on the physical nature of a rainbow which depends upon the position of the observer. Before proceeding to Premise 5, we would have to decide upon the relevant meaning of "illusion". For Premise 5 to arise from Premise 4, "illusion" would have to mean "something that vanishes when one goes close to it". This is not necessarily the case. Thus, the persuasiveness of the Premise 5 would depend on using the correct meaning of "illusion", which is difficult to decide. Thus, this could be an example on the "equivocation" type of fallacy.
2D. Premise 1 and Premise 2 are not persuasive. The questions - "Does love indeed look good from far away? If so, why?" and "Does love vanish once one gets closer to it?If so, why?" are left unanswered. Thus, this is an example of the "begging the question" type of fallacy. Also, there is no clarity about what it means to get "closer" to love. Thus Premise 1 and Premise 2 are not very persuasive. (This is an argument in a nutshell, so one cannot expect all explanations. Instead, we can guess what are the possible explanations OR what were the possible reasons for the author to argue thus and hence frame our attack)
2E. The argument relies on the analogy between "love" and "rainbow". However, the points of comparison between them (if they do exist) namely - 1) the existence of the object once we get closer to it, and 2) the appeal/ appearance of the object from afar; do not seem to be relevant in this case. Thus, this is an example of the "weak analogy" type of fallacy.

Me: Thus the general take on this kind of poetic comparisons is that, it does not give a credible evidence of the asserted statement being true.