The Instigator
MouthWash
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

Logic should not be trusted.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
InquireTruth
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,471 times Debate No: 24441
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (4)

 

MouthWash

Pro

First of all, I assert that even the most basic axiom could be false, since there could be some massive hole in it that our potentially defective brains cannot realize. Attempts to render logic relevant (such as Occam's Razor) fail because they are presupposed on the validity of axioms. Whoever accepts this debate must refute this position (first round will be refutation, not acceptance).

Puppies!
InquireTruth

Con

Introduction

What a fun debate and I appreciate MouthWash having provided the opportunity for its discussion. I bet most cautious readers are sensing a sort of peculiarity in MouthWash’s reasoning. That is to say, upon first reading (or second or third depending upon one's caliber) it seems obvious that something is off in the argument proper, even if it cannot be immediately identified. So let’s break it down (hopefully judiciously), and see what the argument is and where it founders.

Let’s start with what I discern to be the first premise:

(1) “First of all, I assert that even the most basic axiom could be false, since there could be some massive hole in it that our potentially defective brains cannot realize.”

Secondly, we’re supplied with the premise:

(2) “Attempts to render logic relevant (such as Occam's Razor) fail because they are presupposed on the validity of axioms.”

So let’s summarize this argument in a more deductively accessible manner:

(3) All axioms could be false
(4) Anything that presupposes these axioms could be false
(5) Logic presupposes these axioms
(6) Logic could be false

As you’ll see in the succinctly summarized version, (6) follows necessarily from the joint assertion of the previous premises (3,4 and 5). What you’ll find conspicuously absent from the deductive arrangement of the premises is the matter of trust. From the premises provided by my opponent, all we can legitimately deduce is that logic could possibly be false. So we have at least one problem to begin with, namely that this argument does not address the matter of trust at all. Thus, being the non sequitur, that it is, the argument never really begins. We’ll get into that in a minute. There still is a second matter to be addressed, namely the problem of begging the question. That is to say, the truth of the premises depends fully upon the truth of the very axioms in question. There are quite a few more problems, of course, like the problem of presumably supplying equaprobable value to the truth or falsity of axioms. Or the problem of axiomatic consistency being the only thing we experience and thus cannot be expected to act outside our realm of experience. We run even further into many epistemic problems that simply cannot in brevity be broached in this venue. So let’s address the two matters I mentioned.

The Problem of Trust

Trust: Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

As you’ll notice, there is nothing inherent in the definition of trust that requires certainty in the Cartesian sense. For instance, I trust that gravity travels at a rate of 9.8 m/s2, even though I have not measured it myself. In fact, there is nothing inherently contradictory with jointly asserting that I trust that the rate of gravity is 9.8 m/s2, whilst also asserting that I believe the rate of gravity could be false. So I can believe that logic is possibility false while still trusting that it is not.

Sense I have only ever experienced the reliability and consistency of axioms, I have very good epistemic reasons for believing that they are, in fact, accurate representations of reality. Even further, if I suspected that they were, in fact, false, I would still have to live my life as if they were true, given that everything we currently know about reality is bound, ineffably and with ruthless precision, by these axioms.

The Problem of Question-Begging

This is a brief criticism. The premises as outlined by my opponent and further summarized by me require the truth of axioms. Inasmuch as deductive rules of reason, such like those employed by my opponent, require the truth of certain metaphysical principles, like the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity.
For instance, assuming that axioms are either true or false requires that the axioms governing the law of excluded middle and the law of non-contradiction be true. Therefore, the only way for the first premise to be operable is for at least some axioms to be true.
Debate Round No. 1
MouthWash

Pro

There has been a grave misunderstanding here. Con seems confused as to what I was trying to argue. This is apparently what he thinks my argument is:

"(3) All axioms could be false

(4) Anything that presupposes these axioms could be false
(5) Logic presupposes these axioms
(6) Logic could be false"

Actually, what I was trying to say is that since our conception of logic and our justification of it could be false, there is no reason to believe it since the justifications for logic are based on the validity of logic and are therefore circular. For instance, the validity of Occam's Razor is dependent upon Occam's Razor itself, since without it we would have no way of estimating the probability of Occam's Razor being based upon some unknown flaw in our minds. And without such an anchor, our entire perception of logic collapses. So here is a better summary:

1. Occam's Razor could be false.
2. Our justification of Occam's Razor is dependent upon Occam's Razor.
3. Therefore we have no way of measuring the validity of Occam's Razor.
4. Without Occam's Razor logic collapses.
5. Therefore logic should not be trusted.

"The premises as outlined by my opponent and further summarized by me require the truth of axioms. Inasmuch as deductive rules of reason, such like those employed by my opponent, require the truth of certain metaphysical principles, like the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity."

Incorrect. For instance, let us examine this statement:

"All logic could probably be false."

There are two possibilities here. The first is that all logic is false, which would invalidate the argument as my opponent has said, but still affirm the resolution (not the assertion that logic should not be trusted, but by the nonexistence of our perception of logic). The second is that only some logic is false. However, since we have no way of knowing what logic to trust or even if certain types of logic are only partially comphensible, no logic should be trusted. Both ways, I win.

Also, I would like to point out that my objection is founded in intuition, not logic. I am simply rejecting all axioms as valid. The law of non-contradiction is founded in intuition as well.

"Since I have only ever experienced the reliability and consistency of axioms, I have very good epistemic reasons for believing that they are, in fact, accurate representations of reality."

This argument is presupposed upon the validity of logic itself and is therefore circular. Who is to say that whatever you have experienced gives you reasons for assuming it is true? It could be logical for patterns to fit your perception of reality until a certain date, say December twenty-first 2012, then collapse. It could be logical that nothing exists, even you (from your standpoint).

Who is to say that you have experienced anything at all? Since there is no means of determining probability (such as Occam's Razor), who is to say that your memories from before the present moment have likely not been artificially created in an instant, and that you will cease to exist in the next? Even if you are what you percieve yourself to be, you have no way of knowing if a moment was real anytime that moment becomes the past. At this point I'm just rambling on about the possiblities. ;)

I await Con's response.
InquireTruth

Con

Responding Directly

My opponent believes that I have, in fact, not judiciously summarized his argument and have gravely misunderstood its thesis. Thus, we’ll have to adjust where necessary. (Though you’ll find that my argument in the former round is still applicable on many points.)

“Actually, what I was trying to say is that since our conception of logic and our justification of it could be false, there is no reason to believe it since the justifications for logic are based on the validity of logic and are therefore circular.“

Now let’s try and dissect this in an even more judicious manner than before. There are actually two separate and distinct premises for two different arguments here. Firstly, my opponent says our conception of logic could be wrong. Then he states that there is something wrong with logic because it depends upon the assumption of itself. Thus, of course, it is circular. What he has described, as the cautious reader has probably already observed, is an axiom. An axiom is a properly basic belief that must be assumed as true. That is to say, there is no way to prove its truth without first assuming its validity. This much is conceded.

So what have we shown thus far:

(1) Logic cannot be proven without assuming itself

Or perhaps:

(1’) Our conception (perception?) of Logic could be false.

What follows from (1) and (1’) respectively are what exactly? So far as I can see, (6), from my former round, that “logic could be false,” is precisely what results from both (1) and (1’) respectively. Without writing these out in full syllogism, I trust that the reader can observe this without difficulty.

I will not be addressing his reformulated syllogism with Occam’s razor because it is observably invalid and unsound, inasmuch as Occam’s razor is not a law of logic, does not depend upon itself, and the conclusion clearly does not follow from any of the premises.

Further, his examination of the phrase, “all logic could probably [sic] be false,” is bizarre. For he states: “There are two possibilities here.“

This is clearly false, for there are only “two possibilities” if we assume logic to be true (namely that non-contradiction, law of identify and law of excluded middle are all true). Thus we must trust that at least the aforesaid laws are true.
Another bizarre point my opponent makes is that certain laws are not founded in logic proper, but rather intuition. If intuition can be trusted however, then we can clearly point to the observable fact that virtually all logical laws are intuitive. Problem solved?

The Damnable Point

Probably the most damning argument to made in all this is that in order for my opponent to even render his argument against logic proper and the trust therein, is to first trust that logic itself will aid him in achieving this desired result. To be more clear, he must trust logic in order to attempt to refute its trustworthiness. This is the traditional begging of the question, wherein his argument depends upon the truth of the very thing he seeks to refute.

Reiterating the Unrefuted

I won’t respond to his latter points that depend upon a strict Cartesian epistemology and land him in the mucky waters of solipsism. Because their irrelevant. It has already been conceded that it is possible, in the strictest sense of the word, that all my perceived experiences of physical reality and the like are mere illusions. The relevant point is whether or not I should trust logic. On this point, my opponent did not respond. I can easily trust things that are possibly wrong. It is especially easy to trust those things that are literally the only things I experience (e.g. the existence of physical reality, that logical laws exist, or that other human minds exist besides my own, etc.). What we need, then, is some good reason for not trusting the very basic makeup of our experiences – the possibility (equaprobable?) of their falsity notwithstanding.
Debate Round No. 2
MouthWash

Pro

I thank my opponent for his response. I'm going to chop his argument up into bite-sized chunks for my snarking pleasure.

"What he has described, as the cautious reader has probably already observed, is an axiom."

That's right. However, your point about this invalidating my argument was refuted in the last round and it seems you decided to ignore it.

"So far as I can see, (6), from my former round, that “logic could be false,” is precisely what results from both (1) and (1’) respectively."

The point is the same, it's how we get there.

"I will not be addressing his reformulated syllogism with Occam’s razor because it is observably invalid and unsound, inasmuch as Occam’s razor is not a law of logic, does not depend upon itself, and the conclusion clearly does not follow from any of the premises."

This is where you are wrong. Occam's Razor is a principle based on statics. The more assumptions you make, the more likely you are to get more wrong, as every assumption provides an opportunity to be wrong. It is clearly grounded in logic, and if it were wrong, it would invalidate all of our assumptions about logic, specifically our concept of probability. If probability was meaningless there would be no Occam's Razor, since it relies on probability to be true. Hence, Occam's Razor is circular logic. In a sense it is like what you said, only using more explicitly detailed examples (which you failed to directly address in the first round).

"If intuition can be trusted however, then we can clearly point to the observable fact that virtually all logical laws are intuitive."

Nowhere did I concede that intuition could be trusted, only that you have the burden to validate all axioms as reliable and that I was simply rejecting them as invalid. The law of noncontradiction can be trusted, but only to a degree which is unknown to us and can therefore not be relied upon.

"To be more clear, he must trust logic in order to attempt to refute its trustworthiness."

Not necessarily. Recall that in my previous argument I hypothesized about a certain phrase, "All logic could probably be false," and offered two distinct possibilities if such an assertion were proven to be true. The phrase may have been confusing to some, but it is simply the same conclusion that I am attempting to argue here- that no logic should be trusted. If we assume my argument to be true, then that does indeed leave us two possibilities:

1. Not all logic is valid, but some of it is, specifically the types I am using to refute logic. This is suggested by the fact that logic disproves it's own validity. Note that this does not concede the definition since we would still be unaware of the extent of it's validity.

2. Logic is totally wrong, which would invalidate my argument, but also his argument and would mean that he concedes that logic can be trusted. Of course, the second option is impossible or above our understanding (seeing as it would invalidate the law of noncontradiction).

But what if we say that the phrase has not been proven? Well, guess what: the bulk of his argument seems to be focused on this point about my argument being self-collapsing, which I have just refuted.

"The relevant point is whether or not I should trust logic. On this point, my opponent did not respond. I can easily trust things that are possibly wrong."

Actually, my point was that we had no way of measuring how likely these things were.

Please read this:
Everybody who wants to vote, I am going to have to ask you not to do so based on bias (which will inevitably be a problem here), but on who made the more convincing arguments, seeing as I myself am devil's advocating.
InquireTruth

Con

Introduction

So what can we conclude from all that has been discussed? You'll remember that in this debate I levied two primary criticisms with their respective sub-points:

(1) The Problem of Trust
(a) non sequitur
(b) Experience trumps inscrutability

(2) The Problem of Question-begging/The Damnable Point
(c) Self-refuting
(d) Self-trusting

And how far did we get in these areas?

(1) The Problem of Trust

(A) Non Sequitur

The fact that the conclusion, Logic should not be trusted, does not follow necessarily from any of the arguments presented by opponent is especially telling. The conclusion, when his premises were jointly asserted, could still be denied without contradiction. All that he has been able to show is that logical laws could (though the probability is inscrutable) be false based upon some failure in our perception of them. But who cares? That led me directly into my second sub-point.

(B) Experience trumps inscrutability

I said that it is especially easy to trust those things that are literally the only things I experience (e.g. the existence of physical reality, that logical laws exist, or that other human minds exist besides my own, etc.). My opponent thinks it makes sense to distrust those things that we have never experienced to be false based upon some unknown possibility, that will forever remain inscrutable to the the human mind, that they could be wrong. Why in the world would I, or anyone else for that matter, distrust everything that is known and experienced based upon the infinitely wide epistemic region of things not known or experienced (and forever out of our epistemically illuminated range)? It is more pragmatic to simply accept logic and reality as basic axioms because, if they're wrong, we'll never know otherwise. It's really all we can do.

So far as I can see, the primary point of trust was never really addressed, either generally or my sub-points specifically, despite it being a key point in the resolution.

(2) The Problem of Question-begging/The Damnable Point

(C) Self-Refuting

I am not sure we got very far on this front either. I pointed out that my opponent's whole argument suffers from begging the question, inasmuch as his entire conclusion rests upon the truth of the very thing he is seeking to refute. Thus, the only way for his conclusion to be true, would be for logic to be true, inasmuch as the conclusion only necessarily follows from the premise if certain logical rules apply. This played significantly into my other sub-point in this category.

(D) Self-Trust

If it is true that the conclusion: Logic could be false, only follows if we take certain logical principles to be true, like some of the ones already described in this debate, then it follows that we must trust those principles of logic that allow us to arrive at that desired conclusion. Thus, the argument suffers from issues of self-trust, inasmuch as it must trust itself to arrive at a conclusion that denies its own trustworthiness. I take this to be unintended concession on my opponent's part that at least some logical principles can be trusted, namely those used in formulating his argument against logic.

Conclusion

I think the careful reader will see that I have quite clearly refuted the overarching thesis of my opponent and all the relevant sub-points made therein. My highest accolades go out to MouthWash, for this most enjoyable debate. May the future bring him good health and prosperity. But let the very near future bring him a loss, though I trust he'll recover.

InquireTruth
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
How so? Did I not argue against your claim that the resolution was self-refuting?
Posted by InquireTruth 4 years ago
InquireTruth
MouthWash, I would be happy to discuss with you the things I purposefully ignored at greater length if you wish. But I would add the proviso that I only ignored things that I felt were easily identified as irrelevant the purpose of the debate.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
So... you ignore every single thing I said, and you still win? Interesting.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
*note that this does not concede the RESOLUTION, not the definition."

Sorry about these, as I said, my argument was submitted with two minutes left.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
*rejecting them as valid, not rejecting them as invalid.
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
Submitted with two and a half minutes left!
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
No, never. ;)
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
Forrfeit?
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
God, I shouldn't have done 24 hours... I feel like my eyelids are drooping off my face.
Posted by johnnyboy54 4 years ago
johnnyboy54
Hey InquireTruth is back!

This might actually be good.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
MouthWashInquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: "Logic should not be trusted" is a self-defeating statement, because it's a logical statement about logic. If true, it must be false. In fact, Pro's arguments show that he has a grave misunderstanding of what logic actually is. Con did a great job in dismantling Pro's objections to logic and showing the proposition to be negated.
Vote Placed by Sojourner 4 years ago
Sojourner
MouthWashInquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: In the end, Pro never fully refuted the argument that (albeit, possibly false) logic could not be trusted.
Vote Placed by AnalyticArizonan 4 years ago
AnalyticArizonan
MouthWashInquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con was able to show that by trying to disprove logic, Pro was presupposing it. Pro's argument was thus self-defeating.
Vote Placed by Greyparrot 4 years ago
Greyparrot
MouthWashInquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Although many other points were sketchy, con made a good self contradictory argument.