The most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/26/the-most-logical-logical-falla.html


How you can avoid committing the "conjunction fallacy"
#2

Fallacies? Weren’t they those guys in the New Testament who had it in for that wandering preacher guy? I’m still waiting for the HBO series to come out so I can find how the story ended.


#3

So is this like when someone uses argumentum ad 24 to justify torture?


#4

Sorry, no, the way that this is described is an ontological disaster.

Anything and everything which can be discussed exists, otherwise it would be impossible to talk about it. The real question is “what kind of existence is it?” Every word refers at least to the cognitive structure the associated linguistic label is attached to, so can be demonstrated to at least exist as a cognitive structure. If cognition isn’t “real” either, then debating the existence of anything else isn’t going to prove productive.

Welcome to the noosphere.


#5

Some people say it hasn’t finished yet. If they are right you probably don’t want to watch it in some of the later series, they have so much gore and torture in them that they make the Saw films look suitable for children.

The current story arc involving the followers of 'murican Jesus isn’t written very well either. I don’t care if they are the villains, being that evil in such a black and white way is completely unbelievable,


#6

Ah yes. Certainly one the most break-breaking.


#7

Sometimes I worry about the fact that you are so obviously correct and so easily comprehensible to me, when so many others seem to find your viewpoint wrongheaded or impenetrably opaque.

I am similarly sometimes worried about the Dr. Bronner’s soap label.

Postulating infinity, all else follows as a matter of course. --Roger Zelazny


#8

That would be a very non-standard form of existence. For example, one could refer to “the biggest prime number”. Does it exist? Certainly not in the usual sense; but you can pretend that it exists in order to prove that it doesn’t.


#9

Well, this is semantics, which are important here. But there’s a built in assumption that the term existence is being defined here as corporeal. Now you might counter that cognition is the same in that both kinds of existence are the arrangement of matter and energy into patterns, in one kind as thoughts and in the other kind as noumena (things in themselves independent of observation), and you would not be strictly wrong. But that does miss the point that there is a categorical difference between imaginary and non-imaginary phenomena. Otherwise, belief would be sufficient to shape whatever shared world lies outside the Cartesian theater. But as we all know, wanting something to be true does not make it so.

So while you’re not actually wrong, you’re arguing against a position the existential fallacy is not staking.

Now granted, logic is supposed to be as rigorous as possible. But it would be unreasonable to require the meaning of well-established terms to be redefined every single time someone refers to them, particularly when the usage being deployed is clear from context. Since your comment shows you do clearly understand what they mean, I’m left thinking you simply want the kind of existence defined every time, despite the kind the term existential fallacy refers to being well established for well over a century. This strikes me as sophistry.

Unless of course you were unfamiliar with the well-established definition of the kind of existence to which it specifically refers, in which case I sympathize, as this podcast is meant to be for general consumption and they did not take the time to point their listeners to the meaning of existential import, which is crucial. Also, they are in desperate need of a better sound editor :dizzy_face:


#10

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