# POLL 4 on a very simple argument especially designed for Sarkus

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Speakpigeon, Jan 26, 2019.

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## Is the argument valid?

Poll closed Feb 25, 2019.

16.7%

50.0%

0 vote(s)
0.0%

33.3%
1. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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So you dropping your silly criticism of the notion of may-statements?
EB

3. ### arfa branecall me arfValued Senior Member

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7,832
Keep telling yourself that.

5. ### YazataValued Senior Member

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5,877
He seems obsessed by the fact that not everyone accepted an argument he made in a thread about the philosophy of mind half a dozen threads ago. Its strength seemed intuitively obvious to him. He just can't let it go.

(He'd have more success getting people to agree with him if he wasn't so combative and dismissive of everyone else's views.)

I think that he's making a different sort of argument. He's arguing that if A is a member of a particular set, and if B is a member of the same set, then it's possible that A = B.

We aren't trying to prove that (A = B) is T. We are concerned with the possibility that they might be. (It also remains possible that they might not be.) Speakpigeon seems to want to argue that his premises imply that โ(A=B) is T.

That's the province of (one species of) modal logic.

Intuitively, it looks plausible to me, and I'm inclined to say "sure". But I don't know how to prove it. (Neither, I would guess, does Speakpigeon.)

So I can't really say whether it's a valid argument in modal logic or not.

Last edited: Jan 31, 2019

7. ### arfa branecall me arfValued Senior Member

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7,832
It's an argument that's based, as I claimed, on a relation.

Suppose B is the set {T,F}.
Then if y is in {T,F}, and x may be in {T,F}, then x "may be" y. It's a relation between pairs of elements in {T,F}.
It fails though, if x "may be" y, and x "may be" not in the set. It needs more, um, rigour.

8. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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30,994
That may be what he is trying to make as an argument, but it's not what he has actually posted (and he has rejected that, as an interpretation, above).
What he has actually posted, and insisted on, allows true premises and a false conclusion.

9. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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1,123
Suppose it's not.
EB

10. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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False allegation.
False allegation.
EB

11. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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Yes it is obvious to me and not just to me.
I'm not obsessed.
Still, it is obviously interesting to see seemingly well-educated people fail to agree to something as obvious as that. So, again obviously, that's something you would want to understand how it is at all possible. I started with an argument I knew would irritate some people because about the conscious mind and maybe it was their motivation for rejecting validity, so I had to moved to less irritating arguments, only to discover some people still insisted they're not valid. So, sorry, but I did make a genuine discovery. Make what you can of that but there is no need to indulge in cheap psychologising.
For God sake, I you can read English at all, we are explicitly concerned with the possibility that they may be, not might be. What's wrong with you?!
It has to be remarkably strange that you guys are all unable to take my arguments at face value, as worded, as phrased. You keep coming back each time with a redaction of the original argument. That's just derail after derail after derail. I wouldn't want you to run the rail service.
EB

12. ### James RJust this guy, you know?Staff Member

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38,693
Tell me why that distinction is important to your argument.

13. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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I think I already did. "May", in general and as it is used in modal logic, only suggests logical possibility in that it doesn't suggest probability.
"Might" suggests (low) probability and therefore can be, and usually is, used to express a degree of disbelief, and so isn't useful in a logical argument.
If you get into probabilities, it's maths, not logic.
The opposite of "might" would be "could very well be". I might be possible to do logic with that but.
So, "might" would affect the logic of modal arguments. You could substitue it in my argument without making it invalid, but again it would suggest probabilities that we don't necessarily have.
EB

14. ### SarkusHippomonstrosesquippedalo phobeValued Senior Member

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But low probability is still an expression of possibility, right?
So if you are only concerned with the possibility, any word that expresses such a possibility should be acceptable to you. As long as the argument remains about the possibility, even if the probability is additionally assumed to be exceptionally small, then it still adheres to your argument about possibility.
So here's a tip, speakpigeon: assume that people use "may" and "might" interchangeably when expressing possibility, with no reference to probability. There. Problem solved. If they use other language that expresses an assumption of low probability that has an impact on the actual logic then address that, but for now, just assume that they are synonymous. Even if you don't think they are, let's just assume that they are being used that way, okay?
Can you do that?

15. ### Beer w/StrawTranscendental Ignorance!Valued Senior Member

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DaveC426913 and Yazata like this.
16. ### YazataValued Senior Member

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5,877
You've started something like six threads on the subject. (I'm surprised that the moderators are letting you get away with doing that.)

It illustrates a problem that can arise when we assume that our own philosophical intuitions must be universal, just because they seem so obvious to us. (Just look at the religion arguments between the atheists and the theists.)

Perhaps in French there's a distinction that doesn't exist in English. In English, 'may be' and 'might be' are effectively synonymous.

Turning every exchange into a 'to-the-death' ego battle isn't going to win you any friends, or motivate people to agree with you. If you could lose your combative arrogance for a moment, you would see that I was defending your point against Iceaura's criticism there.

I wrote:

The point that I was trying to make seems clear enough (to me, anyway). I wasn't trying to assign probabilities, I was talking about whether or not your argument implies possibility.

Natural language is often logically ambiguous. That's why logicians symbolize the logical structure of arguments originally expressed in natural language. Oftentimes that formalization isn't a trivial exercise, since the same text might plausibly receive several logical interpretations.

If you do that, you probably still won't get an answer, since I doubt very much whether anybody here (including you) is able to do proofs in modal logic.

Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
17. ### arfa branecall me arfValued Senior Member

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7,832
I'm beginning to understand all this now. Speakpigeon is trying to impress us all with his understanding of the possibilities of the meaning of different words.
It might be that he's actually quite intelligent, or it may be that inside every intelligent person there's an idiot trying to get out.

Possibly.

18. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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Sure.
I make this distinction to reduce ambiguity and modal logic uses "may", not "might".
EB

19. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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I could but I won't.
My arguments are about logical possibility, and using "may" in logical arguments is the standard way to do that.
And if I did, you would still come up with spurious allegations about me and my arguments.
EB

20. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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You've posted a lot in my threads, so you're obsessing about them.
See?
Sorry, me, I'm doing logic here.
EB

21. ### SarkusHippomonstrosesquippedalo phobeValued Senior Member

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10,068
I guess you can add hypocrisy to your character traits as well. Or is the irony of you insisting with what you deem the "standard" way to do things lost on you? Ah, well.
You are? Where? Amongst all your posturing and sabre-rattling I wasn't sure there had been room for anything else. Me bad.

22. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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No, they're not. You're just ignoring there is one.
Isn't that obvious? Look up a dictionary.

You keep making misrepresentations and you wonder why I'm rude?!
I already explained several time I used "may", like it is used in ordinary language and in modal logic arguments, to signal logical possibility: The sentence "x may be y" here means the same as "It is logically possible that x is y" and "We don't know that it is not true that x is y".
If you missed that, then it's because you didn't miss it but forgot not missing it.
When I did that once, people complained I was using a formalism they didn't understand.
So, rather than keep repeating yourself again and again, just read the OP again and that's all there is and will be to it.
Here you are. Ordinary English has to be better.
EB

23. ### SpeakpigeonValued Senior Member

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1,123
Haven't you anything better to do in life?
EB