Dissection of an Argument


 
 
 
Dissection of an Argument
 

Physical World  
 
In the Anatomy of an Argument section arguments were classified into 5 groups based on the relationship between the Abstract World and the Physical World:
  
 
 

1) Deductive Logic Arguments (Abstract World)
 

This group of arguments use deductive logic. They don't use physical world testing evidence or they cannot be tested in the physical world. Typically they start with premises (the premises define the particular abstract world) and from these premises deductions are made. This group includes the deductive logic fallacies  
 

2) Irrelevant Arguments

This group of arguments use the introduction of irrelevant or incorrect factors to stop the logical flow of the core argument (logical consistency and/or physical world testing).
 
 

3) Denial Arguments
 

It is always possible to deny any logic or physical world evidence. This group of arguments are based on the unreasonable denial of physical world evidence or logical consistency.
 
 

4) Inductive Logic Arguments (Physical World)
 

This group of arguments use physical world evidence and inductive logic.  However, there is no physical world testing of predicted outcomes looking for negative and positive evidence. The group includes inductive logical fallacies.
 
 

5) Physical World Tested Arguments

This group of arguments use deductive logic and test in the physical world what the idea predicts looking for negative and positive evidence. They don't claim to prove an idea but can disprove an idea and rank the idea's usefulness.
 
 
This classification of arguments gives us a framework of the following questions for dissecting arguments and ultimately for responding to the argument:
 
  • Does the argument only rely on deductive reasoning to prove the conclusion? (Define an abstract world and then deduce conclusions
  • Does the argument contain objects or properties that do not map to physical world objects or properties?
  • Are irrelevant or incorrect factors being introduced? (Something outside the logic of the core argument or evidence relating to the core argument)
  • Does the argument rely on rejecting either the logic or evidence?
  • Does the argument only use inductive logic to draw conclusion from physical world observations? (Makes and justifies a generalization from observed data)
  • Does the argument explore what it predicts should and should not happen?
  • Has the argument been tested in the physical world looking for both negative and positive evidence?
 The following sections exlpore the context of the questions.
 
 

Deductive Logic Arguments (Abstract World)

Premises are used to define an abstract world. For deductive arguments to be 'true' they must be logically consistent. If the premises are true then the conclusion must be true. The classic example of a deductively valid argument is:

(1) All men are mortal.

(2) Socrates is a man.
 
Therefore:
(3) Socrates is mortal.

It is simply not possible that both (1) and (2) are true and (3) is false, so this argument is deductively valid. If there is a logical error then the argument is fallacious.  

 
  • Does the argument only rely on logical consistency to prove the conclusion?
  • Does the argument contain a logical fallacy?
  • Does the argument contain objects or properties that do not map to physical world objects or properties?  
 
 

Irrelevant Arguments

Arguments have a logical flow. It is possible to introduce irrelevant factors and thereby stop the logical flow of the core argument. For example rather than criticise the evidence someone is presenting the presenter is personally criticised. By association if the presenter is discounted then so is the argument and evidence he is presenting.
 
 
  • Are irrelevant factors being introduced?
  • Does the argument contain one of the misdirection fallacies?
 
 

Denial Arguments

In the end people make judgements about arguments and it is always possible for someone to unreasonably deny any logic or physical world evidence. For example by moving the goal posts so that the evidence presented in the argument is no longer sufficient.
 
 
  • Does the argument rely on rejecting either the logic or evidence presented?
  • Does the argument use any of the denial arguments listed?
 
 

Inductive Logic Fallacies (Physical World Logical Fallacies)

Rather than defining an abstract world and deducing conclusions it is also possible to start with physical world observations and then induce conclusions. For example, a room has a very large number of balls in it. You cannot see them however, a 1,000 balls from the room are delivered to you. All the balls delivered to you are are green and you induce or generalise from this that all the balls in the room are green. Inductive logic is not absolute and rigorous. In the example given until you have seen every single ball and checked that they are all green you cannot logically conclude all the balls are green. However, if you found just one red ball you could logically say that not all the balls were green and the original idea was wrong. In an abstract world deductive argument we could say whether it was true or not. This cannot be done for a physical world inductive argument because it is not possible to measure everything. In addition to this inability to draw an absolute conclusion from an inductive argument there are also many inductive logical fallacies.
 
 
  • Does the argument only use physical world evidence and inductive logic?
  • Does the argument use any of the inductive logical fallacies listed?
     
     

Physical World Tested Arguments

This last group of arguments are again based in the physical world. They may have started with physical world observations and generalizations but the arguments are formed using deductive logic and testing the idea in the physical world looking for negative and positive evidence.
 
 
  • Does the argument explore what it predicts should and should not happen?
  • Has the argument been tested in the physical world looking for both negative and positive evidence?
 
The spreadsheet below lists the logical fallacies identified in Anatomy Of An Argument and applies the dissection questions to them. The goal being to breakdown the fallacies and then cure or avoid them.
 
 

List of Fallacies Split Into Types

 
 

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