PHIL: Pancritical Rationalism (was RE: Question about PETA....)

From: Hugo Alves (
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 21:52:38 MST

>At 04:07 PM 2/19/01, Hugo Alves wrote:
>>Chris Russo wrote:
>>"The problem is that many of these groups don't consider logic to be
>>as important as "we" do. Logic is only a convenient tool, to be used when
>>possible, but to be discarded when that logic might upset >>one of their
>>core beliefs."
>>Can you prove anything logically without eventually bumping into an axiom
>>that requires you to have faith in it? Your logic has as many >>flaws as
>>has the fundamentalist christians' faith. Theirs' just seem >>more
>>shocking because they don't make any effort in hiding the faith->>related
>Not true.

Sorry to insist...

"Perhaps someone could produce an argument demonstrating that some of the
critical standards necessarily used by a pancritical rationalist were not
only unjustified but uncriticizable, that even the pancritical rationalist
must accept something as uncriticizable if circular argument and infinite
regress are to be avoided."

If I say
1. All men are mortal.
2. John is a man.
3. Therefore John is mortal.

what makes the third sentence true based on the previous two? You say it is
logical, it is evident, but why is it so?

If I, on the other hand, say that I can draw the conclusion:

1.All men are mortal.
2.John is mortal.
3.Therefore John is a man.

You will undoubtlessly say that I cannot do so, because the first premiss is
an implication, and not an equivalence. Yet, when you say such a thing to
someone not familiarized with the laws of logic (eg. a child), most will say
that it is legitimate to draw 3 out of 2 and 1. How can you convince them of
the contrary? You can explain that all that sentence 1 says is that A is
contained in B, and so any element contained in A must belong in B, but the
contrary is not true, because B can be "larger" than A. Still, I challenge
the average person to reach this conclusion without any exterior help. It is
not immediatly obvious that B can be "larger" than A, and therefore not be
contained in it, or this wouldn't be a very common falacie among people that
don't use logic that much. One has to come up with an example that doesn't
fit in order to reach this conclusion. Well, then. Suppose we were all very
dumb people, who lacked imagination and life experience to come up with that
idea. If this was so, we would all hold this principle very dearly, as a
self-evident thing, and include it as one of the cornerstones of our reason.
Fortunately we don't.

However, what about the prior principle? The one that says that
1. All men are mortal.
2. John is a man.
3. Therefore John is mortal.

This also seems self-evident. You can say that the only reason why we still
value this as true is that no one has been able to refute this yet. In our
arrogance we believe that it is absolutely true and when confronted with the
possibility that it might be false we say "Hah! Show me something that
proves it wrong!" or even worse "How can you doubt it? It is perfectly
evident!"(something that reminds me of the things "fundamentalist" people
say sometimes when you question their beliefs), which is the same stance one
could have had defending the falacie I mentioned before.

The only reason we keep "believing" in it is because no one has been able to
show us that it is wrong yet. This can either be because it is simply NOT
wrong period, OR it could be just because this law is only 2 thousand years
old and restricted to a very small "testing area" (Planet Earth and all
phenomena happening in it), and so not enough testing has been done to
present us with an event that contradicts it. In other words, we believe in
it in very much the same way that we believe that the sun will rise again in
the skies tomorrow. It always did, so why think the contrary? And yet, we
know that this is by no means a proof that it always will.

Our logic and reason are no less a religion than Christianism, since we are
not even able to understand where our soft points are or why people like
fundamentalist christians think the way they do, and we keep believing that
reason is the only true answer to things.

Hugo Alves
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