Your argument is invalid (Logic is hard)


So, it’s only been a couple weeks into the term, and already my logic class is starting to open my eyes. And always in ways that I like.

I remember looking back on a lot of political groups I followed on Facebook and such and remembering someone with an opposing viewpoint comment by saying… eh, sorry for strawman-ing a bit, but they essentially said,

“People don’t have basic human rights if eating meat is outlawed. That’s logic.”

No, that’s not logic, that’s your opinion. You can very well survive without eating meat, there are plenty of examples of healthy people who don’t have meat, and lots of alternatives to getting protein other than meat. etc. etc. I’ve seen a lot of comments where people try to pass feelings for logic, and it’s really annoying because generally if you try to say your own values are “logic” and everyone who disagrees with you is illogical, you’re shutting them down and not understanding their side, and if you don’t understand their side, then you can’t make intelligent counterarguments and hopefully change their mind.

I’m particularly passionate about this because it seems like every time I was in an art class and politics came up, it was basically the worst thing ever. In my experience, people who had more artistic brains tend to not be naturally good at making logical arguments (myself included). So, such discussions would generally be people getting emotional and anyone having an opposing viewpoint (like I don’t believe Marxism is good for art because look what happened to the Avante-Garde artists after the Tsar and his ilk were overthrown) got ridiculed, shut down, and a lot of hurt feelings were passed around on both sides. Nobody got a broader viewpoint, nobody understood anyone better, and everyone just got pissed off.

This is part of the reason why I was inspired to take logic. With the University’s values of art being more based around how art needs a “political message,” a topic I disagree with more than agree with (isn’t that propaganda?), I wanted to be able to use all the facts I know and put them together coherently into a solid argument. Now that I’ve done quite a bit of reading on logic, I learned the hard way that it’s actually pretty difficult.

Here’s what I mean:

“All birds have feathers, all robins have feathers, therefore, all robins are birds.”

Example: Robin with feathers. Not a bird.

Now, we know for a fact just in our daily experiences that robins are birds, so they must have feathers, but if you look at the sentence by itself, there is NOTHING apart from the conclusion that implies robins are birds. We just know that birds have feathers and robins have feathers. There is an implication that there are robins that may not be birds.  Just that robins have feathers. But it can be a little difficult upon first hearing this sentence  to break your own experience and way of thinking.

Conclusion? This argument is INVALID. The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Now, once the rules of logic click, it’s a lot of fun. It’s basically a whole bunch of puzzles. I’m really sad that logic isn’t a requirement to get a degree, and with as much use it has in the real world, it really should be.

Now, I’m seeing invalid arguments EVERYWHERE all over the internet. It used to be that I would see a bunch of facts from biased sources, but now I also see that facts don’t string together coherently, and the fact that this is just the stuff I learned from week 1 of BASIC formal logic. That’s pretty scary. 😦



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