## Re: Factual statements

1

Good to see that philosophical education is finally starting to pay some real-world dividends.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 4:05 PM
2

But, if I follow, "the remaining 10%" might as well be "the remaining 339%", with no loss of truthfulness.

Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 4:34 PM
3

I'm not sure -- "the remaining 339%" seems to me to make the sentence incoherent, which (maybe? Dunno? Not a philosopher?) makes it hard to talk about its truth or falsity.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 4:39 PM
4

it is true that 90% of the congressional staffers John Kyl impregnates end up getting abortions, and also true that the remaining 10% of the congressional staffers John Kyl impregnates commit infanticide

In what sense is this statement true? I'm assuming that you're assuming that "the congressional staffers John Kyl impregnates" is an empty set, but wouldn't your statement therefore imply both that [.9][x]=[y] and [.1][x]=[z], where [y] /= [z] (because [y]="getting abortions" and [z]="commit infanticide"). If [x] is an empty set, both those equations can't be true, can they, unless [y]=[z]? (And if both equations can't be true, isn't your statement false?)

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 4:52 PM
5

"[y]" doesn't equal "getting abortions". [y], if I understand your strange notation, is "90% of the staffers John Kyl impregnates". Of each of them we go on to say, they all got abortions. There are none of them, so this is true.

"[z]", similarly, is not "commit infanticide". [z] is 10% of the staffers John Kyl impregnates. Of each of them we go on to say, they all commit infanticide. Again, this is true.

[z] and [y] are in this case the same in number, that is, they have no elements.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 4:58 PM
6

You might say that y = the set of staffers impregnated by Kyl who get abortions while z = the set of staffers impregnated by Kyl who commit infanticide, but then y does equal z, since each is the empty set.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:00 PM
7

6 is right, thinking about it more.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:10 PM
8

It still strikes me as so misleading as to be properly classified as a false statement (even if not technically logically false), rather than a true one. Surely philosophy has such a concept?

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:12 PM
9

Yes, the concept is "misleading statement".

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:17 PM
10

… or if you like the concept of the conversational implicature.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:18 PM
11

I can understand why you wouldn't say the statement was false, and if that had been your claim, I wouldn't have objected. I only object to going further and saying it is actually true. It's not actually true, it's simply not-false.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:22 PM
12

It is best to regard such a statement as neither right nor wrong, but meaningless. One good test (not universal, but useful) is to see whether the negation of the statement is true. A logically valid statement in most systems is either right or wrong; if it is right its negation is wrong and if it is wrong its negation is right.

Both your statement and its negation appear to be true, which seems like a good proxy for meaninglessness.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:27 PM
13
...An arbitrary claim is one for which there is no evidence, either perceptual or conceptual. It is a brazen assertion, based neither on direct observation nor on any attempted logical inference therefrom.... The answer to all such statements, according to Objectivism, is: an arbitrary claim is automatically invalidated.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:34 PM
14

Well, ignoring the "90%" part and eliding issues of tense and aspect, the theory that validates the truth of the statement "the congressional staffers Kyl impregnates get abortions" requires construing it as the universally quantified claim (∀x)(x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl → x gets an abortion), and the negation of that claim can be written as (∃x)(¬(CSIKx → Ax)), or (∃x)(¬(¬CSIKx ∨ Ax)), or (∃x)(CSIKx ∧ ¬Ax), which is false, not true, or at least, which I assume is false.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:37 PM
15

13: I'm not sure recourse to Objectivism is going to buy you much, here, urple=urple.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:38 PM
16

I'm not really sure why you posted 13, to be honest.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:38 PM
17

Maybe I'll cite that passage in a brief to a right-wing judge.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:39 PM
18

I'm not even close to following the notiation in 14, but it seems to be that one negation of (x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl → x gets an abortion) is (x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl → x does not get an abortion), which is true, or at least, which I assume is true.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:46 PM
19

I suspect it was just to wind you lot up, really.

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:47 PM
20

"notiation"->"notation" and "be"->"me"

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:47 PM
21

I was looking for something marginally more authoritative than answers.com.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:49 PM
22

21 to 16/19.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:49 PM
23

21: in that quest, I do believe you failed.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:53 PM
24

18: one negation ... is (x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl → x does not get an abortion), which is true, or at least, which I assume is true.

Run that by me again? You say it's true that there's a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl who did not get an abortion?

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:54 PM
25

You say it's true that there's a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl who did not get an abortion?

It's exactly as true as it is that there's a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl who did get an abortion. Which was my point.

But what I actually said, or at least thought I was saying, was if x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl, then it's true that x does not get an abortion.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 5:57 PM
26

It's exactly as true as it is that there's a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl who did get an abortion.

Well, the orignal statement (reformulated in 14 without percentages) wasn't "there's a congressional staffer . . .", but rather "all the congressional staffers . . ."

Though it starts off badly by unnecessarily adding "inherently" to "false" when talking about the antecedents of vacuously true conditionals, Wikipedia seems pretty good on why you would want vacuously true statements to come out as true:

Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:10 PM
27

Also, this

if x is a congressional staffer impregnated by Kyl, then it's true that x does not get an abortion.

is true, but it's not the negation of the original statement.

Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:17 PM
28

26: oh, that's even better than the objectivism link. Although, I'm only seeing a good and convincing section entitled "Arguments against taking all vacuously true statements to be false", which I conceded in 11. The sections "Arguments for taking all vacuously true statements to be true" and "Arguments that only some vacuously true statements are true" seem both to have reasonable points, and the latter seems moreso.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:23 PM
29

Is 'not intended to be a factual statement' not a factual statement ?

I was expecting a comment about tense before 14.

OP paragraph 2 looks like a undergraduate's attempt at randomized trials. But I am not fully informed about all of this month's internet traditions.

Posted by: Econolicious ('nothing scary about those quotes') | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:28 PM
30

To pile on (pro Nosflow & Bulgar), you don't want to mix up internal vs. external negation. The real (i.e. external) negation of the original statement is:

not (for all x( if x is a congressional staffer impregnated by John Kyl --> x got an abortion))

which is equivalent to:

there exists x (x is a congressional staffer impregnated by John Kyl & not (x got an abortion))

which is false, so the original claim is (vacuously) true.

All this aside, however, it's arguable that although such a statement presented in a satirical context happens to be true, it's still not governed by the norm of truth, intended to be true, etc. After all, most of those tweets are factually false statements, but because of the satirical context aren't governed by the norm according to which you should try not to make false statements.

(The above is intended to be governed by the norm of blog comments, where I will argue my position no matter how indefensible it may turn out to be on reflection.)

Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:42 PM
31

Is 'not intended to be a factual statement' not a factual statement ?

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:48 PM
32

Harry Frankfurt, you died too soon.

Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:50 PM
33

It is very likely true that Harry Frankfurt's death was too soon.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 6:55 PM
34

Because none of his staffers had yet committed infanticide?

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:00 PM
35

Nor have they yet.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:04 PM
36

||
Go watch/listen to the new album by TV on the Radio. I could sing its praises all night (both as a collection of songs and as mostly great to amazing videos and interstitial bits), but I'll just say stick around for the reference to a "Peanuts-based LARPing community."
|>

Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:08 PM
37

Most vacuously true statements appear to me to be true (but vacuously so). For some reason the precision of the 90% and 10% claims here seemed to make the statement clearly not affirmatively true. I'm not really sure why; it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:12 PM
38

Kyl's statement (that 90% of Planned Parenthood's services are for abortions) was truly awesome, in any event, for the statement later issued by his office ("it was not intended to be a factual statement") was to mean that it was not intended to be a true-or-false statement, but that it was intended to be a metaphorical -- indeed, deeply hyperbolic -- statement. That is so clever! It was outside the realm of truth and falsity!

(/end obvious)

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:13 PM
39

I guess on train-bound reflection the situation could be thought to be more complicated in this way:

Let's grant that universal quantification is not existentially committing, and let's also grant (much more contentiously) that the English sentence "all the congressional staffers impregnated by Kyl got an abortion" contains, ihr logischen Form nach, a universal quantification. Still, you might think that "90% of the congressional staffers impregnated by Kyl got an abortion" is more like "many of the …" than like "all of the …", and that "many" is, like "some", existentially committing. I could certainly persuaded about "many" (hell, I might have persuaded myself in writing this sentence), but I don't think it's true about "90%".

Then again, even if we allow that 90% isn't existentially committing, urple's complaint tha the negation of "90% of the …" is true seems valid; that does distinguish it from "all of the …". It is not obvious that we can push the "not" in "not: 90% of the congressional staffers impregnated by Kyl got abortions" any further inside, since it doesn't seem to be paraphrasable in any form susceptible to De Morgan's laws, but it does seem (pace Bulgur and One of Many) that it (the negated sentence) is true just when this sentence is true: "10+ε% of the congressional staffers impregnated by Kyl did not get an abortion", assuming, as presumably we are, that we're only talking about abortions following on pregnancies caused by Kyl and there's only one such pregnancy per impregnated staffer. But that sentence also isn't existentially committing, and is true. (Though that sentence isn't the logical negation of the given sentence.)

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:22 PM
40

||

Every now and then, a simple explanation can cause you to completely revise your understanding of a work of art or literature.

‎"The Giving Tree" always struck me as a creepy fable about a horrible boy and his companion, the tree, who was the boy's victim in a brutally abusive relationship.

Then I saw this item on the "Better Book Titles" blog. Now I know what Silverstein's book is actually about.

|

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 7:55 PM
41

39 seems to be something along the lines I was ineloquently grasping towards. I am not a professionally trained logician.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:01 PM
42

40 is so great.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 8:04 PM
43

||

Uh-oh.

McMegan on how to make a cake

I didn't watch, and this is probably mean, but it did make me smile.

|>

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:16 PM
44

43: I couldn't bring myself to watch, but I read enough comments to learn that she used a food processor to sift her flour. I would subscribe to cable to watch a cooking show co-hosted by her and Sandra Lee.

Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:25 PM
45

she used a food processor to sift her flour

I ... would not have thought of that.

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:30 PM
46

It's not as if the role of the sifter is to make the flour yet finer.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:33 PM
47

You wouldn't think so. It's really bad that I'm snickering, given that I'm not a baking sort myself.

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:36 PM
48

If Megan had stated that in the olden days 1-2-3-4 cakes were actually 1-2-300-4 cakes, then blamed her calculator but asserted that her overall point was true, that would be the perfect video.

Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:40 PM
49

In her grandmother's era, there were no sticks of butter!

What's that, Lassie Wikipedia? You say that "In the United States, butter is usually produced in 4-ounce sticks, wrapped in waxed or foiled paper and sold four to a one-pound carton. This practice is believed to have originated in 1907, when Swift and Company began packaging butter in this manner for mass distribution"?

Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:43 PM
50

It wasn't intended to be a factual statement, redfox.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:44 PM
51

Speaking of which, the paternalism/chivalry in helping protect the one girl from the guy who likes to punch everything on the real world. Really wierded me.

Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 9:44 PM
52

"Is not intended to be a factual statement when appended to its quotation" is not intended to be a factual statement when appended to its quotation.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 10:21 PM
53

Which is good, because "Is not intended to be a factual statement when appended to its quotation" isn't a statement at all, factual or otherwise.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 10:23 PM
54

"Yields a statement not intended to be factual when appended to its quotation" yields a statement not intended to be factual when appended to its quotation.

Still doesn't get there.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-11 10:32 PM
55

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 1:55 AM
56

Quine to pun all day. Quine to pun all night.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:06 AM
57

Then I saw this item on the "Better Book Titles" blog. Now I know what Silverstein's book is actually about.

Thanks for the guilt-trip, PF. Hrmph.

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:24 AM
58

You've Goedel lot of nerve saying that.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:24 AM
59

Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:49 AM
60

I will find out where youse live ...

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:50 AM
61

60: You Cantor ways get what you want.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 5:57 AM
62

Put on that dress, it so makes your eyes Popper.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:15 AM
63

I'm sure he can Russell something up.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:16 AM
64

If there's no snow you can always try to Tarski.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:16 AM
65

64: But when there's white, head for the slopes.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:23 AM
66

Except on Sundays, then do go to Church.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:25 AM
67

But don't fall asleep Turing mass!

Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:29 AM
68

Now you've Dennett.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:30 AM
69

Let's just Husserl it up.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:33 AM
70

Everybody out of the Boole!

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:35 AM
71

Kant do that.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:40 AM
72

What I want to say is: Hume or me!

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:40 AM
73

No need to be so Searle-y about it.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:45 AM
74

I know but I'm clinging on to a Strawson here.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 6:58 AM
75

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 7:04 AM
76

74: Grasping, Guido. You're grasping at Strawson here. But don't let that stop you.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 7:27 AM
77

76: Thanks. That is the problem with young people these days, we always want Habermas.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 7:36 AM
78

RYE RIKE RORTY RIX!

Posted by: OPINIONATED SCOOBY DOO | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 7:41 AM
79

Ayer's a good boy!

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 7:46 AM
80

Make it stop! Make it stop!

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:13 AM
81

Now you've gone and Dummett.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:14 AM
82

For ttaM, I guess we should have some sort of break - maybe a musical interlude. Does anybody here play the Peano?

Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:15 AM
83

If ttaM doesn't stop us the Hegel.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:16 AM
84

82. No, but as it's for ttaM, I know a Piper.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:20 AM
85

Anyway, after 76 I feel Von Humboldt.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:29 AM
86

We should really stop Prior to the point at which ttaM gets Barcan mad.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:49 AM
87

Was it really just a mistake on Ben's part that he wrote "John Kyl" not "Jon Kyl"? No one else noticed?

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:58 AM
88

Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 8:59 AM
89

86: but every time he gets mad it's just Kuhn us to keep Putnam up.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 9:03 AM
90

Shostakovitch!

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 9:05 AM
91

Bless me.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 9:05 AM
92

87: What was that peep talking about?

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 9:33 AM
93

Foucault if I know.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-14-11 9:37 AM
94

Grice and Schein!

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-15-11 2:19 AM
95

After that nice Carnap.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-15-11 8:19 PM
96

Highest Marx for that one; it took me a Weil.

Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 4:35 AM
97

Rorty you guys on about over here?

Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 10:33 AM
98

We'll let you know for a Nagel. (Hint: You've come in late with the first repeat. Good job.)

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:27 PM
99

Ah, crap. Stupid CTRL+F not looking for all-caps me.

Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:29 PM
100

Yeah, I recently discovered that Google n-grams are case sensitive just before I posted something that would have been wrongity-wrong at LGM. (But the accompanying example search results are not, which is what indirectly led me to figure that out.)

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:40 PM
101

You know, I really preferred Brunschvicg's work as a drummer to his work as a producer.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:43 PM
102

100: For instance, "Kobe vs. "kobe".

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:46 PM
103

Tee hee

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-16-11 1:48 PM
104

He who posts the last comment in the most threads wins.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 10:59 AM
105

Me!

Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 11:10 AM
106

At one point I thought of making a collection of last comments culled from various web sites and calling it "Sad Puppies".

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 11:13 AM
107

Rest assured that I'm not just trying to win.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 11:14 AM
108

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

Posted by: Joshua | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 11:29 AM
109

You lose! Good day, sir!

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 12:51 PM
110

Still winning!

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 12:58 PM
111

Tiger blood, right here.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-11 1:27 PM