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Logic & Scientific Philosophy, Uncategorized

Political Proofs

The Conservative Party stands for fiscal responsibility and accountability.

The Liberal Party opposes the Conservative Party.

Therefore, the Liberal Party opposes fiscal responsibility and accountability.

First of all, is this syllogism true? Some would argue that the first premise is incorrect; that is, the Conservative Party does not stand for fiscal responsibility and accountability. While I would agree that it is most certainly not those things(responsibly and accountable), others would say the opposite; but at any rate, it is what they claim to be, and we can conclude that it is, indeed, what they stand for – at least on paper.

Is the second premise true? Yes – while the argument can be made that the Liberal Party does not oppose the Conservatives on everything, they are still opposition, and as such, oppose.

But is it valid? This question rests upon the definition of the word ‘opposes’. When you oppose something, do you oppose everything to do with it, everything it says and does? Or can you support something sometimes while still generally opposing it? Take this equation:

Oppose * (A whole)

Oppose * (Individual parts of that whole, which add up to it)

Then we convert the ideas into numbers, taking opposition as a negative number and assigning individual terms different magnitudes of importance.

-1(1 – 2 – 3 + 4 + 5) = -1 + 2 + 3 – 4 – 5 = -5

The result, being negative, indicates that on the whole the feelings toward something remain opposition. But is each individual part opposed? No – because some terms remain positive, indicating no opposition. What does this mean for our syllogism? That opposition to a whole does not necessitate opposition to all its component parts – and thus, this syllogism is invalid and unsound.

Follow me on Twitter: @LiamtheSaint

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Political Proofs

  1. Goof argument, but it could be made a lot more simply. This is where the knowledge of *form* comes in handy.

    The argument has the form:

    The Ls oppose the Cs,
    The Cs support Q
    Therefore the Ls oppose Q

    Now this isn’t one of the logical forms you’ve studied, but it doesn’t matter. We can use this *form* to show the conclusion doesn’t follow by constructing an obviously bad argument of the same form:

    The Liberals oppose the Conservatives
    The Conservatives are pro-Canadian
    Therefore, the Liberals are anti-Canadian

    Clearly a bad argument. Here’s another, again of the same form:

    The Blue Jays oppose the Red Sox
    The Blue Jays are pro-baseball.
    Therefore, the Red Sox are not pro-Baseball

    Obvious nonsense, right.

    So any argument that has this form is obvious nonsense (that’s how form and validity work!). So the original argument is obvious nonsense, that is, it is invalid.

    Posted by Stephen Downes | October 5, 2012, 2:12 pm
  2. It would be interesting – if depressing – to see how often this very same argument is deployed in an average week in the House of Commons.

    Posted by Bryan | October 5, 2012, 5:19 pm
    • The voting marathon on the last budget is a an interesting example – by forcing votes on each clause(or whatever it was), the opposition let MPs express their feelings on each change, so people can`t say `Well, I voted for the bill to pass X, but unfortunately that also meant passing Y`, or whatnot.

      Posted by liamthesaint | October 6, 2012, 8:29 pm

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