Monday, May 03, 2010

People get paid for this? (Or: Please no, not the MRI of death!!!)

I find this kind of funny. On this peculiar blog named Language Log they are debating what is wrong with the construction of a comment I made on one of my own posts. The post was this one; it concerned free will. And my comment was this:
If free will is an illusion, then deterrents are an illusion. How can a deterrent make me choose not to commit a crime, unless I have the facility of choice?
Which they misconstrued, but that is neither here nor there. What is fascinating is that educated people are arguing over exactly what is the precise diagnosis of my comment's pathology. They going after it with a vengeance, something like Dr. House and his team investigating a mysterious illness.

The author of the post, whom I assume is the Dr. House, thinks the problem is petitio principii (question begging.) That is, I sneaked the conclusion (the existence of free will) into the premise. And also reductio ad absurdum. His crack team, naturally, takes exception. One writes:
Grrr. That's ad absurdAm - ablative case, if memory serves.
That would be Dr.Forman. Another clarifies:
but [heddle's argument] doesn't really seem to involve a concealed assumption of the existence of free will, just a failure to have thought of alternative explanations.
That sounds like Taub, don't you think?

And then--well which team member thinks out of the box?
Heddle's argument doesn't seem to be a reductio. Rather, it seems to be a straight-forward modus tollens. Or, to be a bit more accurate, whether it's a reductio depends on how one wants to reconstruct it. The simplest reconstruction seems to be as a modus tollens
That's 13! I just know it!

I can't wait until Dr. House's epiphany, where it turns out I am actually suffering from a conjunction fallacy (Latin name?) complicated by a mild case of Ignoratio elenchi.

I'll take PZ Myers calling me an idiot anytime over this bunch of pseudo-intellectual losers.

1 comment:

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