Or then not perhaps.
I’ll quote the book’s definition of validity directly:
A philosophical argument is valid if it is not possible for the premises (assumptions) to be true and yet the conclusion to be false.
The book asks, “Is this a good start for solid, rigorous thinking?”
Mr Bamboo’s spidey sense says that this has to be a trick question. (And later he started thinking that he hadn’t understood the definition above at all.) Where, exactly, is the problem with this definition? “A(T)+B(T)=C(T)” is true, but “A(T)+B(T)≠C(F)” is an invalid argument where A and B are true themselves. Are the sceptics about to pop up and claim that since we can’t know anything, there can be no such thing as a valid argument? (Mind you, if nothing can be known, how can the sceptics know they know nothing?)
If I understand the book correctly, the validity of the argument doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the content. For example,
Dogs always have tails.
Some dogs do not have tails.
The moon is made of green cheese.
is a valid philosophical argument because anything can follow from inconsistent premises.
Or the conclusion is necessarily true as in
Money grows on trees.
The King of the Potato People likes money.
Money is either a good thing or a bad thing or neither.
Thus validity is one thing, but its reliability is another because it’s separate from the content. As one final example, I used Fergus Duniho’s silly syllogisms generator to produce
Some hats are dogs.
All hats are wagons.
Some wagons are dogs.
which is valid even although it’s surreal.
If there were doubts about validity today, there will doubts about reality tomorrow. There really were; there really will be. Don’t doubt it. Or perhaps you should.
1. It appears that Duniho’s website where I got the generator from several years ago has gone, but the generator can still be found here
Are Vulcans logical?
After I watched the latest Star Trek film, this question, which I’ve pondered before, popped into my mind again. For example, in the latest film, the Vulcans were prejudiced against Spock because he was half-human. But if the Vulcans are logical and this entails the rejection of emotions, then this invalidates that claim because prejudice is an emotional response to difference. A logical mind, it seems, would be objective and detached on such matters.
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one" is a fundamental element of Vulcan philosophy.
It may be, but it’s a proposition from ethics, not logic. I’m not even sure it can be expressed in logic as an argument of a sort. It may contribute to an argument not to undertake a specific course of action, but there’s no inherent reason why the needs of the many should be placed ahead of the needs of the few. It’s merely a reasonable assumption. In addition, if the needs of the many are so important, why is it that the needs of the few in power would be placed ahead of them in, say, the event of a nuclear war? I can only deduce that there must be at least one argument which renders the statement above invalid.
It might’ve been better if the Vulcans had been portrayed as being guided by reason and simply not given to emotional displays rather than allegedly deeply emotionally repressed.