# POLL 4 on a very simple argument especially designed for Sarkus

## Is the argument valid?

• ### I don't know

• Total voters
6
• Poll closed .
This isn't an example of the "maybe" logic you've been selling us. This is formal , it says x can be a member of the set B, then if y is a member of B, then x can be y. "Can be" is a relation between x and y. Maybe it's transitive? Is it reflexive? is it symmetric?
If the answer to any of those three questions is not yes or no, it's not a relation. (defined on sets)
Note y is fixed by being in B, and this isn't a minor detail.
So you dropping your silly criticism of the notion of may-statements?
EB

Speakpigeon said:
So you dropping your silly criticism of the notion of may-statements?
Keep telling yourself that.

Nobody else knows what you were trying to talk about.

He seems obsessed by the fact that not everyone accepted an argument he made in a thread about the philosophy of mind half a dozen threads ago. Its strength seemed intuitively obvious to him. He just can't let it go.

(He'd have more success getting people to agree with him if he wasn't so combative and dismissive of everyone else's views.)

Your argument here yields false conclusions from true premises, whenever x and y are in mutually exclusive parts of B. That settles the "validity" question.

I think that he's making a different sort of argument. He's arguing that if A is a member of a particular set, and if B is a member of the same set, then it's possible that A = B.

We aren't trying to prove that (A = B) is T. We are concerned with the possibility that they might be. (It also remains possible that they might not be.) Speakpigeon seems to want to argue that his premises imply that ◇(A=B) is T.

That's the province of (one species of) modal logic.

Intuitively, it looks plausible to me, and I'm inclined to say "sure". But I don't know how to prove it. (Neither, I would guess, does Speakpigeon.)

So I can't really say whether it's a valid argument in modal logic or not.

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It's an argument that's based, as I claimed, on a relation.

Suppose B is the set {T,F}.
Then if y is in {T,F}, and x may be in {T,F}, then x "may be" y. It's a relation between pairs of elements in {T,F}.
It fails though, if x "may be" y, and x "may be" not in the set. It needs more, um, rigour.

I think that he's making a different sort of argument. He's arguing that if A is a member of a particular set, and if B is a member of the same set, then it's possible that A = B.
That may be what he is trying to make as an argument, but it's not what he has actually posted (and he has rejected that, as an interpretation, above).
What he has actually posted, and insisted on, allows true premises and a false conclusion.

That may be what he is trying to make as an argument, but it's not what he has actually posted
False allegation.
What he has actually posted, and insisted on, allows true premises and a false conclusion.
False allegation.
EB

He seems obsessed by the fact that not everyone accepted an argument he made in a thread about the philosophy of mind half a dozen threads ago. Its strength seemed intuitively obvious to him. He just can't let it go.
Yes it is obvious to me and not just to me.
I'm not obsessed.
Still, it is obviously interesting to see seemingly well-educated people fail to agree to something as obvious as that. So, again obviously, that's something you would want to understand how it is at all possible. I started with an argument I knew would irritate some people because about the conscious mind and maybe it was their motivation for rejecting validity, so I had to moved to less irritating arguments, only to discover some people still insisted they're not valid. So, sorry, but I did make a genuine discovery. Make what you can of that but there is no need to indulge in cheap psychologising.
(He'd have more success getting people to agree with him if he wasn't so combative and dismissive of everyone else's views.)
I think that he's making a different sort of argument. He's arguing that if A is a member of a particular set, and if B is a member of the same set, then it's possible that A = B. We aren't trying to prove that (A = B) is T. We are concerned with the possibility that they might be. (It also remains possible that they might not be.) Speakpigeon seems to want to argue that his premises imply that ◇(A=B) is T. That's the province of (one species of) modal logic. Intuitively, it looks plausible to me, and I'm inclined to say "sure". But I don't know how to prove it. (Neither, I would guess, does Speakpigeon.) So I can't really say whether it's a valid argument in modal logic or not.
For God sake, I you can read English at all, we are explicitly concerned with the possibility that they may be, not might be. What's wrong with you?!
It has to be remarkably strange that you guys are all unable to take my arguments at face value, as worded, as phrased. You keep coming back each time with a redaction of the original argument. That's just derail after derail after derail. I wouldn't want you to run the rail service.
EB

we are explicitly concerned with the possibility that they may be, not might be.
Tell me why that distinction is important to your argument.

Tell me why that distinction is important to your argument.
I think I already did. "May", in general and as it is used in modal logic, only suggests logical possibility in that it doesn't suggest probability.
"Might" suggests (low) probability and therefore can be, and usually is, used to express a degree of disbelief, and so isn't useful in a logical argument.
If you get into probabilities, it's maths, not logic.
The opposite of "might" would be "could very well be". I might be possible to do logic with that but.
So, "might" would affect the logic of modal arguments. You could substitue it in my argument without making it invalid, but again it would suggest probabilities that we don't necessarily have.
EB

I think I already did. "May", in general and as it is used in modal logic, only suggests logical possibility in that it doesn't suggest probability.
"Might" suggests (low) probability and therefore can be, and usually is, used to express a degree of disbelief, and so isn't useful in a logical argument.
But low probability is still an expression of possibility, right?
So if you are only concerned with the possibility, any word that expresses such a possibility should be acceptable to you. As long as the argument remains about the possibility, even if the probability is additionally assumed to be exceptionally small, then it still adheres to your argument about possibility.
So here's a tip, speakpigeon: assume that people use "may" and "might" interchangeably when expressing possibility, with no reference to probability. There. Problem solved. If they use other language that expresses an assumption of low probability that has an impact on the actual logic then address that, but for now, just assume that they are synonymous. Even if you don't think they are, let's just assume that they are being used that way, okay?
Can you do that?

I'm not obsessed.

You've started something like six threads on the subject. (I'm surprised that the moderators are letting you get away with doing that.)

Still, it is obviously interesting to see seemingly well-educated people fail to agree to something as obvious as that.

It illustrates a problem that can arise when we assume that our own philosophical intuitions must be universal, just because they seem so obvious to us. (Just look at the religion arguments between the atheists and the theists.)

For God sake, I you can read English at all, we are explicitly concerned with the possibility that they may be, not might be.

Perhaps in French there's a distinction that doesn't exist in English. In English, 'may be' and 'might be' are effectively synonymous.

What's wrong with you?!

Turning every exchange into a 'to-the-death' ego battle isn't going to win you any friends, or motivate people to agree with you. If you could lose your combative arrogance for a moment, you would see that I was defending your point against Iceaura's criticism there.

I wrote:

I think that he's making a different sort of argument. He's arguing that if A is a member of a particular set, and if B is a member of the same set, then it's possible that A = B.

We aren't trying to prove that (A = B) is T. We are concerned with the possibility that they might be. (It also remains possible that they might not be.) Speakpigeon seems to want to argue that his premises imply that ◇(A=B) is T.

The point that I was trying to make seems clear enough (to me, anyway). I wasn't trying to assign probabilities, I was talking about whether or not your argument implies possibility.

It has to be remarkably strange that you guys are all unable to take my arguments at face value, as worded, as phrased. You keep coming back each time with a redaction of the original argument. That's just derail after derail after derail. I wouldn't want you to run the rail service.

Natural language is often logically ambiguous. That's why logicians symbolize the logical structure of arguments originally expressed in natural language. Oftentimes that formalization isn't a trivial exercise, since the same text might plausibly receive several logical interpretations.

If you do that, you probably still won't get an answer, since I doubt very much whether anybody here (including you) is able to do proofs in modal logic.

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I'm beginning to understand all this now. Speakpigeon is trying to impress us all with his understanding of the possibilities of the meaning of different words.
It might be that he's actually quite intelligent, or it may be that inside every intelligent person there's an idiot trying to get out.

Possibly.

*Ugh*
"Might" is:
And neither says "probability" but "possibility".
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/might?s=t
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/may
Sure.
Keeping the two forms distinct reduces ambiguity. He may have drowned, for example, is best used to mean that it is unknown whether the man drowned, not that the man narrowly escaped drowning. · When may and might are used to indicate possibility or probability, as in He may lose his job or We might go on vacation next year, the two words are used almost interchangeably. It is sometimes said that might suggests a lower probability than may, perhaps because of its use in hypothetical statements that omit the conditional clause (You might get there on time can be thought of as short for If you hurried, you might get there on time). In practice, however, few people make this distinction.
I make this distinction to reduce ambiguity and modal logic uses "may", not "might".
EB

But low probability is still an expression of possibility, right?
So if you are only concerned with the possibility, any word that expresses such a possibility should be acceptable to you. As long as the argument remains about the possibility, even if the probability is additionally assumed to be exceptionally small, then it still adheres to your argument about possibility.
So here's a tip, speakpigeon: assume that people use "may" and "might" interchangeably when expressing possibility, with no reference to probability. There. Problem solved. If they use other language that expresses an assumption of low probability that has an impact on the actual logic then address that, but for now, just assume that they are synonymous. Even if you don't think they are, let's just assume that they are being used that way, okay?
Can you do that?
I could but I won't.
My arguments are about logical possibility, and using "may" in logical arguments is the standard way to do that.
And if I did, you would still come up with spurious allegations about me and my arguments.
EB

You've started something like six threads on the subject. (I'm surprised that the moderators are letting you get away with doing that.)
You've posted a lot in my threads, so you're obsessing about them.
See?
Sorry, me, I'm doing logic here.
EB

I could but I won't.
My arguments are about logical possibility, and using "may" in logical arguments is the standard way to do that.
I guess you can add hypocrisy to your character traits as well. Or is the irony of you insisting with what you deem the "standard" way to do things lost on you? Ah, well.
Sorry, me, I'm doing logic here.
You are? Where? Amongst all your posturing and sabre-rattling I wasn't sure there had been room for anything else. Me bad.

In English, 'may be' and 'might be' are effectively synonymous.
No, they're not. You're just ignoring there is one.
Isn't that obvious? Look up a dictionary.

Natural language is often logically ambiguous. That's why logicians symbolize the logical structure of arguments originally expressed in natural language. Oftentimes that formalization isn't a trivial exercise, since the same text might plausibly receive several logical interpretations. I've asked you, on several occasions, what logical work your phrase "may be" is doing in your statements of your arguments. I asked you to formalize your arguments. For whatever reason, you refused.
You keep making misrepresentations and you wonder why I'm rude?!
I already explained several time I used "may", like it is used in ordinary language and in modal logic arguments, to signal logical possibility: The sentence "x may be y" here means the same as "It is logically possible that x is y" and "We don't know that it is not true that x is y".
If you missed that, then it's because you didn't miss it but forgot not missing it.