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Does this beg the Question?..

 
 
agrote
 
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2005 07:01 am
Am I right in saying that the following is question-begging?

If event C precedes event E,
and events C and E are constantly conjoined,
and C and E are spatiotemporally contiguous to a certain degree such that results in us believing that C and E are causally related,

then we will believe that C and E are causally related.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,528 • Replies: 20
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Dec, 2005 07:58 pm
Quote:
If event C precedes event E,


Ok, C comes before E

Quote:
and events C and E are constantly conjoined,


Ok, there is never one without the other.

Quote:

and C and E are spatiotemporally contiguous to a certain degree such that results in us believing that C and E are causally related,


Ok, C causes E

Quote:
then we will believe that C and E are causally related.


Well, that's already been established

Quote:
Am I right in saying that the following is question-begging?


Nope, I don't see anything particularly curious about these statements. Do you?
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 10:33 am
Re: Does this beg the Question?..
agrote wrote:
Am I right in saying that the following is question-begging?

If event C precedes event E,
and events C and E are constantly conjoined,
and C and E are spatiotemporally contiguous to a certain degree such that results in us believing that C and E are causally related,

then we will believe that C and E are causally related.

No, that's not question-begging. That's inferring an effect from a cause.

Question-begging, simply put, is when you assume that which you are attempting to prove. For instance:
    "The bible is inerrant. I know that because God wrote the bible, and God is infallible."
The problem here is that the only evidence for God's infallibility (and, indeed, God's authorship of the bible) is contained in the bible itself. Thus, believing that the bible is inerrant is based, ultimately, upon a belief in the bible's inerrancy. That's begging the question.
0 Replies
 
agrote
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 11:31 am
Re: Does this beg the Question?..
joefromchicago wrote:
agrote wrote:
Am I right in saying that the following is question-begging?

If event C precedes event E,
and events C and E are constantly conjoined,
and C and E are spatiotemporally contiguous to a certain degree such that results in us believing that C and E are causally related,

then we will believe that C and E are causally related.

No, that's not question-begging. That's inferring an effect from a cause.

Question-begging, simply put, is when you assume that which you are attempting to prove. For instance:
    "The bible is inerrant. I know that because God wrote the bible, and God is infallible."
The problem here is that the only evidence for God's infallibility (and, indeed, God's authorship of the bible) is contained in the bible itself. Thus, believing that the bible is inerrant is based, ultimately, upon a belief in the bible's inerrancy. That's begging the question.


But surely if I assume, as I have, that C and E are such that we believe that they have a causal relation, then I am begging the question if I conclude, as I have, that we believe that C and E have a causal relation?
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 12:20 pm
As it stands I think the argument does beg the question.

The problem as I see it is that "causality" cannot be empirically defined (Kant) and the segmentation of C and E into separate "events" is observer dependent. Hence the usage of the term "belief".

You use "belief" twice in your argument. Had you used "strengthens our belief" in your conclusion I think this would remove the question begging.

EDIT:

Alternatively "causally related" needs to be changed to "C causes E" in the conclusion to avoid question begging.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 02:27 pm
Re: Does this beg the Question?..
agrote wrote:
But surely if I assume, as I have, that C and E are such that we believe that they have a causal relation, then I am begging the question if I conclude, as I have, that we believe that C and E have a causal relation?

No, you're not assuming that C causes E -- at least not in your example. You identify two events, one preceding the other in constant conjunction. That, by itself, is not a causal relationship (two events can be correlated without there being a causal relationship between them). Even if the relationship between the two events is so close that we are inclined to believe that the former causes the latter, as long as we do not start with the premise that C causes E, we have not begged the question.

If I were to frame a question-begging argument for the conclusion "C causes E," it would look something like this:
    Let us assume that C causes E [proof] Therefore, C causes E.
That's far different from what you described.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 02:32 pm
fresco wrote:
As it stands I think the argument does beg the question.

The problem as I see it is that "causality" cannot be empirically defined (Kant) and the segmentation of C and E into separate "events" is observer dependent. Hence the usage of the term "belief".

So what? Pretty much everything that relies upon an empirical proof is observer dependant. That just goes to the reliability of the proof, not to its logical validity. If I see two events that are constantly conjoined in time, I may falsely conclude that one causes the other (e.g. I might conclude that the rooster's crowing causes the sun to come up in the morning). That does not mean, however, that I have indulged in question begging.

fresco wrote:
You use "belief" twice in your argument. Had you used "strengthens our belief" in your conclusion I think this would remove the question begging.

That is truly a distinction without a difference.

fresco wrote:
EDIT:

Alternatively "causally related" needs to be changed to "C causes E" in the conclusion to avoid question begging.

And that's another one.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 02:44 pm
Are you asking about correlation and causation?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 05:38 pm
Joe,

Agote correctly identified his argument begged the question because it took the form

(P . Q . (R-->S)) --> S
(where S= "belief in C and E being causally related")

I have suggested instead

(P. Q . (R-->S)) --> A v B
(where A =" P and Q stengthen belief in the causal relationship implied by R"
and where B= "C causes E")

Neither A nor B are semantically equivalent to S since no "strength in the belief" nor "direction of the relationship" had yet been mentioned.

Whereas I might agree with your rejection of my pre-amble into the epistemological problems of "causality" with respect to the logical form, you are incorrect in your assumption of "no difference" in my suggestions of rewording.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 06:22 pm
Would you be so awfully kind as to pass the decanter down this end of the table old chap?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 06:36 pm
Spendius,

Sorry....none left....I finished it composing that lot !
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 07:02 pm
You mean we have no butler to carry out the usual offices when we are in serious trouble?How on earth did I wind up in such a low class joint as this?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Dec, 2005 11:31 pm
fresco wrote:
Joe,

Agote correctly identified his argument begged the question because it took the form

(P . Q . (R-->S)) --> S
(where S= "belief in C and E being causally related")

I have suggested instead

(P. Q . (R-->S)) --> A v B
(where A =" P and Q stengthen belief in the causal relationship implied by R"
and where B= "C causes E")

Well, first of all, that doesn't make any sense. "Belief" and "strengthen belief" are, fundamentally, the same thing. Your attempt to differentiate them is unavailing. Secondly, that's not what you said before. You claimed:
fresco wrote:
The problem as I see it is that "causality" cannot be empirically defined (Kant) and the segmentation of C and E into separate "events" is observer dependent. Hence the usage of the term "belief".

I'm not exactly sure what you were talking about then (as I noted, the fact that causality is observer dependent merits a big "so what?"), but it isn't what you're talking about here. Make up your mind.

fresco wrote:
Neither A nor B are semantically equivalent to S since no "strength in the belief" nor "direction of the relationship" had yet been mentioned.

I can't discern any difference between "strength in belief" and "believe" -- probably because there is no difference. Whether someone "weakly" or "strongly" believes in something merely goes to the confidence that person has in his/her belief. It is not a difference in kind, only a difference in quality.

fresco wrote:
Whereas I might agree with your rejection of my pre-amble into the epistemological problems of "causality" with respect to the logical form, you are incorrect in your assumption of "no difference" in my suggestions of rewording.

No, I'm pretty sure that I'm correct. Now, if you want to argue that the entire notion of causality is an assumption that begs any question regarding causation, that's something else entirely. We haven't addressed that issue yet.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 12:37 am
Joe,

You are normally much more coherent than that ! I'm surprised (:wink:)you are resorting to semantic cheese paring to maintain your position. Irrespective of your personal opinion of my suggestions for rewording the conclusion, argote is correct about the structure of his original argument. Your comments on the logical (algebraic) form are conspicuous by their absence.

If agrote wishes to discuss this further I'll be quite happy to. Only he has authority over his intended meaning.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 09:22 am
fresco wrote:
Joe,

You are normally much more coherent than that ! I'm surprised (:wink:)you are resorting to semantic cheese paring to maintain your position. Irrespective of your personal opinion of my suggestions for rewording the conclusion, argote is correct about the structure of his original argument. Your comments on the logical (algebraic) form are conspicuous by their absence.

There was little need to comment on your attempts at symbolic logic. Your first equation:
    (P . Q . (R-->S)) --> S
doesn't set out a petitio principii at all. Just because one term (S) in the premises is repeated in the conclusion doesn't mean that the premises beg the question. In the classic syllogism:
    All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
finds two terms in the conclusion that are also in the premises:
    All As are B C is an A :. C is B
Yet that is clearly not begging the question. Indeed, if we take just the second half of your equation:
    (R-->S) --> S
we see that it describes a simple conditional with an unnecessary term (the final S). To make sense of it, you should reframe it thusly:
    R-->S R :. S
But then that wouldn't be begging the question either.

Your second equation:
    (P. Q . (R-->S)) --> A v B
is incomprehensible. It translates to: "given P and Q and (if R then S), then A or B is true." Or, in other words, "given that C precedes E, and given that C and E are constantly conjoined, and if given the foregoing then we are led to believe that C and E are causally related, then it is true either that P and Q strengthen belief in the causal relationship implied by R or else C causes E."* Frankly, that makes no sense.


*I can only guess at what values you assign to P, Q, and R, since you never spelled that out in your post. I'll assume that you followed agrote's initial formulation.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 10:15 am
Joe,

1. From Google

Petitio Principii (Begging the Question)

Description:

The words and phrases used to express the premisses are synonymous with the words and phrases used to express the conclusion. That is, the conclusion merely restates the premisses, with minor changes.


The syllogistic form which you take as a counter example does NOT phrase the conclusion as a synonym of the premisses. The conclusion must of necessity use some of the words of the premisses, without being synonymous.

2. The symbol v in symbolic logic normally implies the inclusive use of "or"...that is "either/or or both". You appear to be interpreting as an "exclusive or" which I agree would make no sense. The implication of P is important for the directionality as stated in B because without P E could be "causing " C (based of course on no prior information that C stands for "cause" and E for "effect").
0 Replies
 
agrote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Dec, 2005 07:21 pm
I started this thread because I was writing a short coursework essay about what Hume says about the idea of necessary connection - our belief that there are necessary causal relations between certain events of objects. Hume originally says that if we notice the following three things about a pair of events, C and E, then we will believe that C causes E:

1. C precedes E
2. C and E have spatiotemporal contiguity
3. C and E are constantly conjoined

I criticised Hume for being vague about just how contiguous C and E would need to be for us to believe that they have a causal relation, and I suggested that he needs to qualify 2 as follows:

2'. C and E are sufficiently spatiotemporally contiguous for us to believe that they have a causal relation (providing we also observe 1 and 3)

Whether I was right in saying this isn't really relevant. The purpose of this thread was to ask whether I was correct in making my next point: that 2' makes the account circular, or it makes it beg the question, because then Hume would be saying that, "If C and E are contiguous enough for us to believe that they have a causal relation, then we will believe that they have a causal relation." I stated that that begged the quastion, but I wasn't sure whether I was right in saying that, or whether I had misunderstood what it means to beg the question.

Just thought I should clarify the context and purpose of my question. I've written the essay and handed it in now, so it's too late for me to change it if I was mistaken. But it's still useful for me to read your comments, so thanks.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 01:06 am
Argote,

Thanks for that background.

My earlier reference to Kant and to subjective segmentation of "time" is related to your problem with your no.2. Kant's move to "causality" being an "a priori of perception" can be seen as direct reponse to problems of circularity and question begging by the empiricists.

Interesting stuff !
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 08:28 am
fresco wrote:
Joe,

1. From Google

Petitio Principii (Begging the Question)

Description:

The words and phrases used to express the premisses are synonymous with the words and phrases used to express the conclusion. That is, the conclusion merely restates the premisses, with minor changes.


The syllogistic form which you take as a counter example does NOT phrase the conclusion as a synonym of the premisses. The conclusion must of necessity use some of the words of the premisses, without being synonymous.

Read what I wrote. I said that the syllogism I quoted was clearly not an example of begging the question.

fresco wrote:
2. The symbol v in symbolic logic normally implies the inclusive use of "or"...that is "either/or or both". You appear to be interpreting as an "exclusive or" which I agree would make no sense. The implication of P is important for the directionality as stated in B because without P E could be "causing " C (based of course on no prior information that C stands for "cause" and E for "effect").

Yes, the "v" connotes "either/or or both." In my haste, I omitted the "or both." But then it really doesn't matter: adding "or both" doesn't make your argument any better.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Dec, 2005 08:32 am
agrote wrote:
I criticised Hume for being vague about just how contiguous C and E would need to be for us to believe that they have a causal relation, and I suggested that he needs to qualify 2 as follows:

2'. C and E are sufficiently spatiotemporally contiguous for us to believe that they have a causal relation (providing we also observe 1 and 3)

You're adding a term that is unnecessary. Any time we talk about cause and effect, we are, in essence, talking about one's belief in a causal connection. There is, therefore, no need to mention the belief in a causal connection when discussing cause and effect: it's a given. Hume undoubtedly understood this, which is why he doesn't mention it.
0 Replies
 
 

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