Thursday, February 11, 2016

Subjective Relativism as Self-Contradictory

In my Logic class at MCCC tonight I'm teaching on the irrationality of subjective relativism and cultural relativism. I'll give my students this handout.



LOGIC: SELF-CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS
 
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My brother is an only child.
 
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John is a bachelor and his wife’s name is Linda.
 
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There is no such thing as truth.
 
            1. There is no such thing as truth.
 
            2. Therefore, premise 1 is not true.
 
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All the statements I make are false.
 
            1. All S are F.
 
            2. Premise 1 is S.
 
            3. Therefore, Premise 1 is F.
 
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All human behavior is determined.
 
            1. All human behavior is determined.
 
            2. Making statements is an example of human behavior.
 
            3. Premise 1 is a statement.
 
            4. Premise 1 is determined.
 
5. Therefore whoever believes Premise 1 is determined to believe Premise 1.
 
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I only believe things that you can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell.
 
1.    I only believe things that you can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell.
2.    I believe state 1 above.
3.    Therefore I believe something that cannot be seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelled.
 
 
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There is no such thing as free will.
 
            1. There is no such thing as free will.
 
2. Statement 1 was not freely chosen. Any person who believes Statement 1 does not freely believe Statement 1, but was causally determined to believe Statement 1.
 
            3. Therefore there is no good reason to believe that Statement 1 is true.
 
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PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS 20TH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHICAL EXAMPLE OF SELF-CONTRADICTION
IS WHAT WAS CALLED "THE VERIFICATION PRINCIPLE."
 
The "verification principle." (VP)
 
            1. A statement is true IFF (if and only if) it : a) can be empirically
            verified; or b) is mathematical (tautological). (This is called the VP.)
 
            2. The VP is a statement.
 
            3. The VP itself can be neither a) empirically verified; nor is it b)
            mathematical (tautological; redundant; definitional.
 
            4. There the VP is false (by its own criteria).
 
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: "Most propositions and
questions which have been written about philosophical matters are not false, but
senseless. We cannot, therefore, answer questions of this kind at all, but only
state their senselessness. Most questions and propositions of the philosophers
result from the fact that we do not understand the logic of our language."
 
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All truth is relative.
 
            1. All truth is relative to individual knowing subjects.
 
            2. Statement 1 is true.
 
            3. Statement 1 is relative (and thus, by definition, is not
            universally applicable).
4.    Therefore Statement 1 is false.