Philosophy

Validity and Soundness of an Argument

The image below seems legit (or is it). Let us find out while exploring the workings of logic within the form of an argument.

nickcage

The good doctor (a.k.a. Dr. T. Rodriguez, the Philosophy Professor) has requested of us, the good students, to explore the particulars of an argument. We are to read “Informal Logic”.

From this reading we are to:

  1. Give your own, original example of a valid argument with a false conclusion.

  2. Give your own, original example of a valid argument with a true conclusion.

  3. Give your own, original example of a sound argument.

  4. Give your own, original example of a persuasive argument based on induction.

Now here I am trying to come up with my own examples while my cat looks on at me wondering when I will get out of his chair and hand over my comfy blanket. The following answers appear in successive order relative to the numbered questions above.

  • Nick Cage’s hair is a spaghetti monster. All Nick Cages have hair. Therefore Nick Cage is a turkey meat ball.
  • Nick Cage’s hair is a spaghetti monster. All Nick Cages have hair. Therefore Nick Cage is a portion of a spaghetti monster.
  • Nick Cage has hair. Nick Cage’s hair is not a bird. Nick Cage is not a bird.
  • Earth’s gravity causes all things to fall toward Earth. If tossed on Earth, a plastic hot-dog will fall toward earth because of gravity.

Well, what kind of bantha poodoo is this madness? As far as my understanding allows me understand, logic as it is described in the web page linked at the beginning of this blog has attributes (or as I like to call them particulates). These attributes make up an intangible form which makes an argument. At first I thought: What the hell? What is this sorcery?

After some thought I took into consideration of what makes a statue; what defines a statue according to humans. A statue is a figure or form defined by a medium (or material if you will) to represent an idea – be it an animal or human. Like the statue arguments have form too.

Huh, maybe arguments are intangible statues of….uh, well, anyway. Arguments have definitions or attributes like the statue. A primary claim or premise (technically considered an antecedent) is a foundation for which an argument is based upon and a premise or premises lead toward a conclusion.

This logic form, lets call it an intangible form of a statue of an argument, can also be represented symbolically in an alphanumeric form starting with P’s and Q’s. Other letters can be added in addition to the P and Q form to expand the form but in general you will find P and Q used. From what I gathered through a Google search this is called Symbolic Logic. I will not go into the subject of Symbolic Logic because that is beyond the scope of this particular blog but it can be Googled – just let your fingers do the walking. Again in general, as described in the linked page at the beginning of this blog, the symbolic representative form of an argument should be: If P then Q. Where P is the antecedent or premise and Q is the conclusion.

Insert mind explosion here: BOOSH! This is amazing! Assuming an argument follows this general form it has a fair chance of being logical but will it be sound (also known as “is it cray-cray or not”). It’s not sound if is not realistically provable in reality. Think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she says “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Arguments can follow a linearly logical form and be true but it doesn’t mean they’re based in reality, it doesn’t mean it’s sound.


(Wizard of Oz, 1939; Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQLNS3HWfCM)

This is some good stuff. I definitely feel like I’m headed toward breaching the surface of a better understanding of argumentation; I feel like I’ve gained a super power! And I can’t wait to test my new-found skills during the 2016 presidential debates. I might even start rating some of the candidates unsound and sound arguments using Totos or Oz wizards or something, meh, who knows. Either way I feel I have gained a valuable tool, especially one I can use in my philosophy class to test for validity and soundness of an argument and I will encourage others to read “Informal Logic” on Jim Pryor’s website.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Validity and Soundness of an Argument

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s