Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

When students enter my MCCC Logic classes I present to them an introduction to logic and use, as an example, a logical argument that concludes with the statement: Dogs are smarter than cats.

I now present this argument to you, for your consideration. I would not stake my life on it. Yet I must admit every time I present it I am personally compelled by it. I believe I have formulated a brilliant logical argument! and, it's fun to see cat-owning students rise up to attempt to refute it, even to posit the opposite (that cat are reall smarter than dogs, esp. as seen in their chosen indifference. I call this the "Garfield argument," which is illogical.)

The argument uses the logical rule of inference called modus ponens, which means "the way of affirming the antecedent." The form is:

If p then q
Therefore, q

Plug in terms for 'p' and for 'q' and, if the two premises are true, the conclusion must be true. So this is, formally, a valid deductive argument.

Here, now, is my argument.

1. The more trainable an animal is, the smarter it is.
2. Dogs are more trainable than cats.
3. Therefore, dogs are smarter than cats.

One cannot question the logic of this argument. Formally, it is valid.

Is premise 1 true? I think so.

Is premise 2 true? I'll confirm that i the form of a question: you don't see "trained cat" shows, do you?

Anyone want to refute my argument?