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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

The 47% and How We Got There

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

Well, hopefully, everyone who’s reading this knows about the recent “off-record” comments that Romney made to a group of donors at an event, which was as I believe unethically leaked out to the public. These comments caused a pretty big controversy, and has been on the minds of many people, unless you’re living in the US of course, where Romney has actually gained 6-7 points with the Middle  class from the eve before the comments went public, till now.

It’s very interesting to see the inductive reasoning that Romney used to get to that conclusion, that 47% of Americans will vote for Obama no matter what. There are three basic facts that Romney assumes to be fact:

A) 47% of Americans rely on the US government to provide for their basic needs( Food, Housing, etc.)

B) Romney will cut funding to the programs that provide these benefits if he is elected President.

C) There are only two viable parties in the United States political system, the Republicans, and the Democrats.

From, these two facts, we and Romney can conclude, that being the maximizing people we are, the 47% of the people who depend on the US government to provide for their basic needs, will not vote for the candidate who will cut funding to those programs providing for their basic needs. And, because there are only 2 viable parties in the US, then obviously the 47% will vote for Obama.

Now, that we can see how Romney got to his general conclusion, he then used Abductive reasoning, to deduce that the 47% pay no income tax. Because, if the 47% of the general population depends on the government to survive, and all they do is “Take, Take, Take” are they logically in a position to give to the government? Romney’s answer is No, and therefore, the same 47% don’t pay income tax.

Now, I can’t fault Romney’s logic, nor his statement that 47% of the population rely on the government, and pay no income taxes, however he did skip over, for his own benefit, a some important facts. He failed to point out the fact that millions, and millions of people who constitute the 47% are either children who aren’t supposed be able to support themselves, or elderly people who have already paid their share of income tax already. So, therefore the 47% who are actually what Romney claims them to be are significantly smaller.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “The 47% and How We Got There

  1. Way to get things going, and to highlight this recent current event as an example of Inductive Reasoning, Richard. Though you’ve included a few points which aren’t quite related to the topic at hand – whether or not Romney’s comments should have ever reached the light of day, and the un-sourced statistic about the candidate gaining ground in polls after the story broke (both potentially interesting items to highlight in other posts this week, perhaps? – the major contention you highlight, I think, is a straightforward and valid argument.

    However, I would push back against Mr. Romney’s first premise and say that he may be unfairly conflating those who pay no income tax with people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” As you correctly point out, many who make up that group, “millions, and millions of people who constitute the 47% are either children who aren’t supposed be able to support themselves, or elderly people who have already paid their share of income tax already,” making the truth of his first premise slightly dubious, if not an example of one of the Fallacies we covered yesterday.

    How would you characterize this use of statistics in terms of Soundness / Reliability?

    Posted by bryanjack | October 2, 2012, 4:20 pm
    • I think that this use of statistics, are both sound, and reliable, however it is amoralous. Is it not true that the millions, and millions of children, and elderly who under my reasoning shouldn’t be paying tax, do they not believe that it is the government’s responsibility to provide for them? Do they not believe that they will be the victims of Romney’s cuts? Do they not believe that they are entitled to this support? No, No, and No.

      That part of Romney’s statement, is sound, and reliable, however, it is how he interprets that statement to get to his own goals that is amoralous. He disregards the fact that many of the 47% are children, and the elderly, and are therefore rightfully entitled to this support, and simply attacks all of them for being irresponsible, and lazy, despite that portion of the 47% representing a minority.

      Posted by riczhang | October 2, 2012, 5:44 pm
      • I think this is a succinct breakdown of the logic at work here, Richard – nicely put (though the use of the double negative can be tough to follow in a direct argument: Q. “Do they not believe…?” . A. “No.”). Do you think Romney’s omission of key factual contexts surrounding his 47% number constitutes a Fallacy, though?

        Posted by bryanjack | October 2, 2012, 6:22 pm
        • I thought that the double negatives may be harder to understand, but I am of the belief that in short paragraphs, and conversations, the use of “No” as opposed to “Yes” makes a stronger point, despite alluding to the same conclusion.

          I think that his omission is only a fallacy when he made the point that he can’t do anything to help them, and that they’re irresponsible, but to say they don’t pay income tax, and they rely on the government, and etc. isn’t, despite the omission. Though, they may be misleading, they aren’t, because despite not telling the whole picture, what he’s said up till that point contains no error.

          Posted by riczhang | October 2, 2012, 11:35 pm

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