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The Law of Non-Contradiction is Universally True

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/12/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,096 times Debate No: 45749
Debate Rounds (3)
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The Law of Non-Contradiction, that is, the principle that "[it] is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong [20] to the same thing and in the same relation." (Aristotle, Metaphysics; IV; 1005b) I Propose that this principle is universal as well as objective and therefore can be known by intellectual creatures.


I want to make a few things clear beforehand:
I'm picking this up for argument's sake alone. I believe in the principle, but I want to try this out and see where it leads. Hegel has tried this, but I find he contradicted his premise. So, here I go.

I do - and do not, as described above - accept this challenge.
I may argue that the Law of Non-Contradicition is true and false at the same time.

My opponent may have the first turn at this.
Debate Round No. 1


SimplySimple forfeited this round.


It is very unfortunate that my opponent has forfeited his round. I was so looking forward to this debate.

Anyway, I will attempt the impossible, for my stance must be that not everything is definite, so this "impossibility" need not be universally true.

Structure of my arguments
My position is that the law of non-contradiction is not UNIVERSALLY TRUE, which means I do not have to disprove it entirely, I only need to show that examples exist where it does not apply. Hence, I will still be allowed to use non-contradictory statements - for argument's sake anyway but also for my own argumentation. I will however try to avoid them, so as not to harm my own position.

First, can we agree that Aristotle's law is based on the concept of dichotomy in the sense that he discerns between attribute A (e.g. "red") and ¬A ("not red, respectively)? For if it were different, then the law would most certainly not be able to be applied to itself: A red ball can be "not blue" at the same time as it's "not green", thus necessitating infinite NOT-attributes, as the number of colours is infinite. So it would appear that the law of non-contradiction is content with basically having the values "true" and "not true".

Initial argument, part 1: Paradoxes
While one may argue that paradoxes are not a valid answer to the proposed problem, as they leave the field of Aristotelian logic, the problem claims the law of non-contradiction universally true, so paradoxes should be contained.
The ancient problem of the philosopher who is caught by bandits offering him this choice comes to mind: "Tell a lie and we'll hang you. Tell us something true and you will die quickly by the sword!" The philosopher answers: "You will hang me!"
Can this answer be called "true"? If it were true, the law of non-contradiction would have to insist that the man be stabbed. But that would in turn make the statement "not true" at the same time. That would by the law of non-contradiction require the man to be hanged, which gives us an unresolvable paradox.

The statement "The man spoke the truth" hence has both qualities at the same time.

There have been proposals to resolve this by creating a third quality: "undecided"
Even if this were to be found within the law of non-contradiction, can it be a solution? If something were to be defined as "undecided", would it not decidedly be "undecided", making it a contradiction to the law yet?

Initial argument, part 2: undefined attributes
If we try to name things - which is an essential part of Aristotle's argumentation in his Metaphysics, upon which the law is built - we will find that Aristotle's definitions are themselves not necessarily true. Aristotle claims that a name cannot be attributed to things which are contradictory. His definition of contradiction is again that what is called A cannot be called ¬A at the same time, like a "man" cannot be called a "not-man".
Now let us suppose I paint a wooden ball red on exactly one half. Could the ball be called red?
If so, then the ball is also "not red", as the exact same area of the ball is not red, and by which rule should we favour the quality "red" over another?
If the ball is not called "red", then when do we call a ball red? If we opt to give an object the attribute "red" if more than 50% of its surface is painted red (which is a fair point), then will we not get into trouble when we have a ball with three colours or more? What colour will we name it? And while such an object could be called colorful or multi-coloured, this is a classification rather than a designation, as surely "multi-colored" can mean "red, blue and yellow" as well as "green, violet and blue", which would be the exact opposites of each other, hence A = ¬A and Aristotle's law disproved by its own account.
Is it even possible to name every multi-color-combination with a single name? There are infinite colors. Their combinations would be even more. This would prove impossible for a functional language, which is - as stated above - crucial for Aristotle's argumentation. So by his own reasoning, not all colour-combinations will be named, leaving "multi-coloured" undefined and hence addressing contradictory colours.

Initial argument, part 3: modern physics
Aristotle cannot be blamed for not knowing that some real phenomena lack dichotomy, particularly photons and electrons, both of which exhibit attributes of particles and waves. Declaring that light consists of particles could be considered wrong, as it is contradicted by experimental findings like polarization. Calling it a wave could also be considered wrong, as this is contradicted by other experiments, e.g. radiation pressure.
The wave-particle dualism is considered fact by scientists who base their science on Aristotle's paradigm (they make non-contradictory statements and accept only those) and to this date remains the best evidence that non-contradiction is not necessarily universal.

Debate Round No. 2


SimplySimple forfeited this round.


Thus ends another debate without competition.

Hopefully, another time!
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Finalfan 5 years ago
Way out of my league. I better get to schooling so I can keep up.. Geesh!
Posted by philochristos 5 years ago
If you do one on the law of excluded middle, I might take it. It would just be for fun, though. I don't actually deny the laws of logic.
Posted by Magic8000 5 years ago
Con's position is pretty much intellectually bankrupt. You can't be Con without assuming the law. No one will probably take this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Orangatang 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited.
Vote Placed by Hierocles 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeits, conduct is given to Con for finishing the debate.

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