The idiot's argument

The idiot's argument
Banno
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 12:48 PM:
Subject: The idiot's argument
It's related to Stove's Worst Argument. While few will present Stove's argument outright, the idiot's argument recurs quite frequently, most often in the threads of newbies, but I suspect it lies hidden in the waffling of some of the more mature correspondents here about. Hang around for more than a week or so and you will come across some variation of the Idiot's argument. It takes almost anything as it's target: numbers, morality, consciousness, the self, even reality itself.

It goes something like this: We conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some particular way. However, someone might conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some other way.

So far so good. Now comes the crunch that gives this argument it's piquancy:

Therefore, the target does not exist

Brilliant.


Edited by Banno on Jan 27, 2013 - 1:12 PM. Reason: Fix bolding
On Feb 22, 2013 - 1:31 PM, Banno responded: See also: forums.philosophyforums.com...ndpost=1056240#post1056240
ZVP
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:07 PM:

You reminded me of something that Kant said better than I can:

"There is but one experience in which all perceptions are represented as in permanent and regular connection, as there is but one space and one time in which all forms of phenomena and all relations of being or not being take place. If we speak of different experiences, we only mean different perceptions so far as they belong to one and the same general experience. It is the permanent and synthetical unity of perceptions that constitutes the form of experience, and experience is nothing but the synthetical unity of phenomena according to concepts."

You make of it what you will.

"The other way" is an illusion. All roads start from the same point and reach(if ever)one single end - buried in mud; not very original, is it.
BalanceofEquilibrium
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:30 PM:

Banno wrote:
Therefore, the target does not exist


There are different perceptions and degrees of existence. Also, there are different definitions of existence as well. Some think there is only one level of existence per se.

To say something doesn't exist is different from saying that it doesn't exist in reality, the true objective world around us. For example, the ideal of unicorns with dragon wings exist in my mind, but not in reality. Most of us perceive the phrase "unicorn with dragon wings" differently. Some may think the wings of the unicorn is pink, while some think it's green. The length of the unicorn's horn can vary as well.

Vagueness VS Existence

Which one is the problem?

Edited by BalanceofEquilibrium on Jan 27, 2013 - 1:35 PM
Arkady
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:35 PM:

Banno wrote:
It's related to Stove's Worst Argument. While few will present Stove's argument outright, the idiot's argument recurs quite frequently, most often in the threads of newbies, but I suspect it lies hidden in the waffling of some of the more mature correspondents here about. Hang around for more than a week or so and you will come across some variation of the Idiot's argument. It takes almost anything as it's target: numbers, morality, consciousness, the self, even reality itself.

It goes something like this: We conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some particular way. However, someone might conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some other way.

So far so good. Now comes the crunch that gives this argument it's piquancy:

Therefore, the target does not exist

Brilliant.

Are you referring to David Stove? If so, is this a form of argument he himself propounded, or one which he criticized? (I'm reading his Scientific Irrationalism at the moment...)
HemlockHangover
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 6:29 PM:

Banno wrote:
It goes something like this: We conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some particular way. However, someone might conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some other way.

So far so good. Now comes the crunch that gives this argument it's piquancy:

Therefore, the target does not exist.


I mostly agree with you - the argument you've described certainly isn't worth much (although I think it could be salvaged if the last part was changed to "Therefore the target might deserve closer examination").

However, I find it only slightly less annoying when people use an inverted form of the argument, which I also feel like I've seen around:

"We conceive of or interpret or understand or speak about the target in some particular way. And in general practice, almost no one conceives of or interprets or understands or speaks about the target in some other way. Therefore the target obviously does exist."
The Great Whatever
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 10:37 PM:

But, Banno, no one argues for that conclusion.

You should be careful with Stove; often, he doesn't know what he's talking about.
quickly
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 11:55 PM:

If anyone doubts that actual philosophers make this argument, consider poor interpretations of the inscrutability of reference. If the radical translator discovers that the natives shout gavagai in the presence of rabbits, that gavagai refers to rabbits doesn't follow, because the available empirical evidence also supports the hypothesis that the natives shout gavagai in the presence of undetached rabbit parts. Therefore, there are no rabbits.



Edited by quickly on Jan 28, 2013 - 12:03 AM
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Posted Jan 28, 2013 - 2:49 AM:
Subject: yeap
That's A Course In Miracles - nothing exists outside of our perception of it.
jedaisoul
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Posted Jan 28, 2013 - 5:16 AM:

Banno wrote:

So far so good. Now comes the crunch that gives this argument it's piquancy:

Therefore, the target does not exist

Brilliant.

Shouldn't that be: "Therefore the target does not exist outside our conception of it..."? Or is that a different fallacy?
Ginger17
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Posted Jan 28, 2013 - 5:20 AM:

An imbecile's reply:

Its a dark and foggy night. I am hanging out with some friends who are drinking from a case of beer in the middle of a field. The vague outline of a figure is seen in the distance. One observer says its Fred, another says its Mary, a third says its a bear, a fourth says its Bigfoot until each of us have made a guess. Since none of us agree on the source of the foggy target, we take a vote and decide it doesn't exist.

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