Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Irrelevant conclusion - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irrelevant conclusion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Irrelevant conclusion,[1] also known as ignoratio elenchi (Latin for an ignoring of a refutation) or missing the point, is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may or may not be logically valid and sound, but (whose conclusion) fails to address the issue in question. It falls into the broad class of relevance fallacies.[2]
Irrelevant conclusion should not be confused with formal fallacy, an argument whose conclusion does not follow from its premises.


Ignoratio elenchi is one of the fallacies identified by Aristotle in his Organon. In a broader sense he asserted that all fallacies are a form of ignoratio elenchi.[3][4]
Ignoratio Elenchi, according to Aristotle, is a fallacy which arises from "ignorance of the nature of refutation". In order to refute an assertion, Aristotle says we must prove its contradictory; the proof, consequently, of a proposition which stood in any other relation than that to the original, would be an ignoratio elenchi. Since Aristotle, the scope of the fallacy has been extended to include all cases of proving the wrong point… "I am required to prove a certain conclusion; I prove, not that, but one which is likely to be mistaken for it; in that lies the fallacy… For instance, instead of proving that ‘this person has committed an atrocious fraud’, you prove that ‘this fraud he is accused of is atrocious;’" … The nature of the fallacy, then, consists in substituting for a certain issue another which is more or less closely related to it, and arguing the substituted issue. The fallacy does not take into account whether the arguments do or do not really support the substituted issue, it only calls attention to the fact that they do not constitute a proof of the original one… It is a particularly prevalent and subtle fallacy and it assumes a great variety of forms. But whenever it occurs and whatever form it takes, it is brought about by an assumption that leads the person guilty of it to substitute for a definite subject of inquiry another which is in close relation with it.[5]
— Arthur Ernest Davies, "Fallacies" in A Text-Book of Logic
● Example 1: A and B are debating as to whether criticizing indirectly has any merit in general.
A: There is no point in people ranting on social media about politics; the president is not going to read it anyway.
B: But it is their social media. People can agree on making a petition or convey notice from many others that they will be signing one based on their concerns.
A: Well, I do not keep up with it anyway.
A attempts to support their position with an argument that politics ought not to be criticized on social media because the message is not directly being heard by the head of state; this would make them guilty of ignoratio elenchi, as people such as B may be criticizing politics because they have a strong message for their peers, or because they wish to bring attention to political matters, rather than ever intending that their views would be directly read by the president.[6]
● Example 2: A and B are debating about the law.
A: Does the law allow me to do that?
B: The law should allow you to do that because this and that.
B missed the point. The question was not if the law should allow, but if it does or not.
Dr Johnson's unique "refutation" of Bishop Berkeley's immaterialism, his claim that matter did not actually exist but only seemed to exist,[7] has been described as ignoratio elenchi:[8] during a conversation with Boswell, Johnson powerfully kicked a nearby stone and proclaimed of Berkeley's theory, "I refute it thus!"[9](See also argumentum ad lapidem.)
A related concept is that of the red herring, which is a deliberate attempt to divert a process of enquiry by changing the subject.[2] Ignoratio elenchi is sometimes confused with straw man argument.[2]


The phrase ignoratio elenchi is from Latin, meaning 'an ignoring of a refutation'. Here elenchi is the genitive singular of the Latin noun elenchus, which is from Ancient Greek ἔλεγχος (elenchos), meaning 'an argument of disproof or refutation'.[10] The translation in English of the Latin expression has varied somewhat. Hamblin proposed "misconception of refutation" or "ignorance of refutation" as a literal translation,[11] John Arthur Oesterle preferred "ignoring the issue", and [11] Irving CopiChristopher Tindale and others used "irrelevant conclusion".[11][12]

See also[edit]


Wikimedia Foundation   Powered by MediaWiki

Appeal to nature - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Appeal to nature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search
An appeal to nature is an argument or rhetorical tactic in which it is proposed that "a thing is good because it is 'natural', or bad because it is 'unnatural'".[1] It can be a bad argument, because the implicit (unstated) primary premise "What is natural is good" typically is irrelevant, having no cogent meaning in practice, or is an opinion instead of a fact. In some philosophical frameworks where natural and good are clearly defined in a specific context, the appeal to nature might be valid and cogent.


General form of this type of argument:
That which is natural, is good.
N is natural.
Therefore, N is good or right.

That which is unnatural, is bad or wrong.
U is unnatural.
Therefore, U is bad or wrong.[2]
In some contexts, the use of the terms of "nature" and "natural" can be vague, leading to unintended associations with other concepts. The word "natural" can also be a loaded term – much like the word "normal", in some contexts, it can carry an implicit value judgement. An appeal to nature would thus beg the question, because the conclusion is entailed by the premise.[2]
Opinions differ regarding appeal to nature in rational argument. Sometimes, it can be taken as a rule of thumb that admits some exceptions, but nonetheless proves to be of use in one or more specific topics, (or in general). As a rule of thumb, natural or unnatural facts provide presumptively reliable good or bad valuesbarring evidence to the contrary. Failure to consider such evidence commits a fallacy of accident under this view.[2][3]
Julian Baggini explains that "Even if we can agree that some things are natural and some are not, what follows from this? The answer is: nothing. There is no factual reason to suppose that what is natural is good (or at least better) and what is unnatural is bad (or at least worse)."[4]


The meaning and importance of various understandings and concepts of "nature" has been a persistent topic of discussion historically in both science and philosophy. In Ancient Greece, "the laws of nature were regarded not [simply] as generalized descriptions of what actually happens in the natural world… but rather as norms that people ought to follow… Thus the appeal to nature tended to mean an appeal to the nature of man treated as a source for norms of conduct. To Greeks this… represented a conscious probing and exploration into an area wherein, according to their whole tradition of thought, lay the true source for norms of conduct."[5]
In modern times, philosophers have challenged the notion that human beings' status as natural beings should determine or dictate their normative being. For example, Rousseau famously suggested that "We do not know what our nature permits us to be."[6] More recently, Nikolas Kompridis has applied Rousseau's axiom to debates about genetic intervention (or other kinds of intervention) into the biological basis of human life, writing:
[T]here is a domain of human freedom not dictated by our biological nature, but [this] is somewhat unnerving because it leaves uncomfortably open what kind of beings human beings could become… Put another way: What are we prepared to permit our nature to be? And on what basis should we give our permission?
Kompridis writes that the naturalistic view of living things, articulated by one scientist as that of "machines whose components are biochemicals"[7] (Rodney Brooks), threatens to make a single normative understanding of human being the only possible understanding. He writes, "When we regard ourselves as 'machines whose components are biochemicals,' we not only presume to know what our nature permits us to be, but also that this knowledge permits us to answer the question of what is to become of us… This is not a question we were meant to answer, but, rather, a question to which we must remain answerable."[8]


Supermarket shelf with four different brands advertising themselves, in some form, as "natural".
Some popular examples of the appeal to nature can be found on labels and advertisements for food, clothing, and alternative herbal remedies.[4] Labels may use the phrase "all-natural", to imply that products are environmentally friendlyand safe. However, whether or not a product is "natural" is irrelevant, in itself, in determining its safety or effectiveness.[4][9]Some compounds found in nature are for example powerful poisons.
It is also common practice for medicine to be brought up as an appeal to nature, stating that medicine is unnatural, and therefore should not be used. This extends to practices such as vaccination. [10]

See also[edit]

Evolutionary ethics (Evolution Biology!)- wikipedia - in contrast with Philosophy Portal

Evolutionary ethics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search
Evolutionary ethics is a field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality.[1] The range of issues investigated by evolutionary ethics is quite broad. Supporters of evolutionary ethics have claimed that it has important implications in the fields of descriptive ethicsnormative ethics, and metaethics.
Descriptive evolutionary ethics consists of biological approaches to morality based on the alleged role of evolutionin shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychologysociobiology, or ethology, and seek to explain certain human moral behaviors, capacities, and tendencies in evolutionary terms. For example, the nearly universal belief that incest is morally wrong might be explained as an evolutionary adaptation that furthered human survival.
Normative (or prescriptive) evolutionary ethics, by contrast, seeks not to explain moral behavior, but to justify or debunk certain normative ethical theories or claims. For instance, some proponents of normative evolutionary ethics have argued that evolutionary theory undermines certain widely held views of humans' moral superiority over other animals.
Evolutionary metaethics asks how evolutionary theory bears on theories of ethical discourse, the question of whether objective moral values exist, and the possibility of objective moral knowledge. For example, some evolutionary ethicists have appealed to evolutionary theory to defend various forms of moral anti-realism (the claim, roughly, that objective moral facts do not exist) and moral skepticism.


The first notable attempt to explore links between evolution and ethics was made by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man (1871). In Chapters IV and V of that work Darwin set out to explain the origin of human morality in order to show that there was no absolute gap between man and animals. Darwin sought to show how a refined moral sense, or conscience, could have developed through a natural evolutionary process that began with social instincts rooted in our nature as social animals.
Not long after the publication of Darwin's The Descent of Man, evolutionary ethics took a very different—and far more dubious—turn in the form of Social Darwinism. Leading Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner sought to apply the lessons of biological evolution to social and political life. Just as in nature, they claimed, progress occurs through a ruthless process of competitive struggle and "survival of the fittest," so human progress will occur only if government allows unrestricted business competition and makes no effort to protect the "weak" or "unfit" by means of social welfare laws.[2]Critics such as Thomas Henry HuxleyG. E. MooreWilliam James, and John Dewey roundly criticized such attempts to draw ethical and political lessons from Darwinism, and by the early decades of the twentieth century Social Darwinism was widely viewed as discredited.[3]
The modern revival of evolutionary ethics owes much to E. O. Wilson's 1975 book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. In that work, Wilson argues that there is a genetic basis for a wide variety of human and nonhuman social behaviors. In recent decades, evolutionary ethics has become a lively topic of debate in both scientific and philosophical circles.

Descriptive evolutionary ethics[edit]

The most widely accepted form of evolutionary ethics is descriptive evolutionary ethics. Descriptive evolutionary ethics seeks to explain various kinds of moral phenomena wholly or partly in genetic terms. Ethical topics addressed include altruistic behaviors, an innate sense of fairness, a capacity for normative guidance, feelings of kindness or love, self-sacrifice, incest-avoidance, parental care, in-group loyalty, monogamy, feelings related to competitiveness and retribution, moral "cheating," and hypocrisy.
A key issue in evolutionary psychology has been how altruistic feelings and behaviors could have evolved, in both humans and nonhumans, when the process of natural selection is based on the multiplication over time only of those genes that adapt better to changes in the environment of the species. Theories addressing this have included kin selectiongroup selection, and reciprocal altruism (both direct and indirect, and on a society-wide scale). Descriptive evolutionary ethicists have also debated whether various types of moral phenomena should be seen as adaptations which have evolved because of their direct adaptive benefits, or spin-offs that evolved as side-effects of adaptive behaviors.

Normative evolutionary ethics[edit]

Normative evolutionary ethics is the most controversial branch of evolutionary ethics. Normative evolutionary ethics aims at defining which acts are right or wrong, and which things are good or bad, in evolutionary terms. It is not merely describing, but it is prescribing goals, values and obligations. Social Darwinism, discussed above, is the most historically influential version of normative evolutionary ethics. As philosopher G. E. Moore famously argued, many early versions of normative evolutionary ethics seemed to commit a logical mistake that Moore dubbed the naturalistic fallacy. This was the mistake of defining a normative property, such as goodness, in terms of some non-normative, naturalistic property, such as pleasure or survival.
More sophisticated forms of normative evolutionary ethics need not commit either the naturalistic fallacy or the is-ought fallacy. But all varieties of normative evolutionary ethics face the difficult challenge of explaining how evolutionary facts can have normative authority for rational agents. "Regardless of why one has a given trait, the question for a rational agent is always: is it right for me to exercise it, or should I instead renounce and resist it as far as I am able?"[4]

Evolutionary metaethics[edit]

Evolutionary theory may not be able to tell us what is morally right or wrong, but it might be able to illuminate our use of moral language, or to cast doubt on the existence of objective moral facts or the possibility of moral knowledge. Evolutionary ethicists such as Michael RuseE. O. WilsonRichard Joyce, and Sharon Street have defended such claims.
Some philosophers who support evolutionary meta-ethics use it to undermine views of human well-being that rely upon Aristotelian teleology, or other goal-directed accounts of human flourishing. A number of thinkers have appealed to evolutionary theory in an attempt to debunk moral realism or support moral skepticism. Sharon Street is one prominent ethicist who argues that evolutionary psychology undercuts moral realism. According to Street, human moral decision-making is "thoroughly saturated" with evolutionary influences. Natural selection, she argues, would have rewarded moral dispositions that increased fitness, not ones that track moral truths, should they exist. It would be a remarkable and unlikely coincidence if "morally blind" ethical traits aimed solely at survival and reproduction aligned closely with independent moral truths. So we cannot be confident that our moral beliefs accurately track objective moral truth. Consequently, realism forces us to embrace moral skepticism. Such skepticism, Street claims, is implausible. So we should reject realism and instead embrace some antirealist view that allows for rationally justified moral beliefs.[5]
Defenders of moral realism have offered two sorts of replies. One is to deny that evolved moral responses would likely diverge sharply from moral truth. According to David Copp, for example, evolution would favor moral responses that promote social peace, harmony, and cooperation. But such qualities are precisely those that lie at the core of any plausible theory of objective moral truth. So Street's alleged "dilemma"—deny evolution or embrace moral skepticism—is a false choice.[6]
A second response to Street is to deny that morality is as "saturated" with evolutionary influences as Street claims. William Fitzpatrick, for instance, argues that "[e]ven if there is significant evolutionary influence on the content of many of our moral beliefs, it remains possible that many of our moral beliefs are arrived at partly (or in some cases wholly) through autonomous moral reflection and reasoning, just as with our mathematical, scientific and philosophical beliefs."[7] The wide variability of moral codes, both across cultures and historical time periods, is difficult to explain if morality is as pervasively shaped by genetic factors as Street claims.
Another common argument evolutionary ethicists use to debunk moral realism is to claim that the success of evolutionary psychology in explaining human ethical responses makes the notion of moral truth "explanatorily superfluous." If we can fully explain, for example, why parents naturally love and care for their children in purely evolutionary terms, there is no need to invoke any "spooky" realist moral truths to do any explanatory work. Thus, for reasons of theoretical simplicity we should not posit the existence of such truths and, instead, should explain the widely held belief in objective moral truth as "an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes in order to get us to cooperate with one another (so that our genes survive)."[8]
Here again the central question is whether the influence of evolution on morality is as pervasive as the critics of moral realism claim. If, as seems likely, there are important aspects of morality that cannot be explained in genetic terms, appeals to moral truth may provide genuine explanation of these aspects.

See also[edit]


Wikimedia Foundation  Powered by MediaWiki

Featured Post

Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Messages!

Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Messages!

Popular Posts