I never really understood the line of reasoning behind this argument. Can someone who believes in it and uses it please explain it to me and some examples of how it's used?
I never really understood the line of reasoning behind this argument. Can someone who believes in it and uses it please explain it to me and some examples of how it's used?
I never really understood the line of reasoning behind this argument. Can someone who believes in it and uses it please explain it to me and some examples of how it's used?
This is a false argument.
You assume the positive and use reductio ad absurdum. This is how you can prove a negative.
I will prove it is false there exists a greatest integer. In other words, I will prove a negative.
For example, assume there exists a greatest integer, say G.
Yet, for any integer, x + 1 is an integer by the inductive hypothesis.
In addition, by the properties of integers, x + 1 > x.
So, take G + 1.
This is greater than the G, a contradiction.
Why is the theoretical "greatest number" considered a negative?
I did not say it was.
I proved a negative. That is the point of the thread.
The "negative" in this argument seems to be anything that is outside the realm of commonly accepted science. Do you think this is a correct interpretation?
First off, pay NO attention to Jack. He's recognized here as using false logic and making blunders ALL over the place. Here's the way his logic works in the sense he used it:
His Statement: A baby elephant weighs more than it's mother.
His Challenge: Prove that is NOT true.
(Which of course, anyone with any sense can do.)
Now then... You're interpretation is close but not all inclusive. There are (and will always be) many, many scientific unknowns, guesses and theories.
And the way a theory is tested is referred to as the "falsification test." In other words, run experiments to see if the theory hold up under as many sets of conditions as you (or anyone) can create.
And to make that clear, use the elephant example above. Simply by weighing the mother and baby, you can show that that the theory (statement) is incorrect and must be discarded because it failed the test.
Also, many things CAN be proven correct under specific conditions and become accepted as "fitting in the realm of accepted science" - but along comes someone like Einstein who shows that Newton wasn't correct under ALL conditions.
This is not a logical fallacy and it really isn't true. It's also sort of an abbreviation for the statement that "You can't prove an unqualified, universal negative."I never really understood the line of reasoning behind this argument. Can someone who believes in it and uses it please explain it to me and some examples of how it's used?
StateofMind said:
I never really understood the line of reasoning behind this argument. Can someone who believes in it and uses it please explain it to me and some examples of how it's used?
Well, no. We only have to find one purple rooster to prove the affirmative while even if you looked everywhere on the planet there would still be a possibility, however improbable, that there is a purple rooster on another planet so you still wouldn't have proved the universal negative.The "negative" part of this argument seems to be arbitrary. It would be just as hard to prove the positive of the examples given.
Prove that purple roosters do not exist.
Prove that purple roosters do exist.
Both of these statements would require the same investigation to prove or disprove them. Purple roosters may or may not exist somewhere.
Typically the burden of proof is upon the side making the claim. So if someone is making a claim and cannot provide evidence of that claim it is reasonable to conclude the claim is false. The alternative is to assume that every claim is true, which is obviously problematic.The fallacy that I've experienced many times in discussions with people is that because there's no documented evidence for something then it follows that it probably does not exist.
There's always the alternative of not assuming either way. This can be done in a variety of ways. Anything from sayingTypically the burden of proof is upon the side making the claim. So if someone is making a claim and cannot provide evidence of that claim it is reasonable to conclude the claim is false. The alternative is to assume that every claim is true, which is obviously problematic.
There's always the alternative of not assuming either way. This can be done in a variety of ways. Anything from saying
I consider it highly unlikely but I can't be 100% sure.
to
I don't know.
to
I'll wait and see.
to
I don't think it can be decided, now at least.
Etc.
Given that things that did not have evidence later did have evidence and are now considered true, I think it would be very odd to decide that everything is false unless it is proven true - or the weight of evidence indicates it is true.