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Hollow Adjectives

8 Post author: Psychohistorian 05 May 2011 03:44AM

[This is a draft intended to be developed into a top-level post - it wouldn't feel wrong to make it such right now, but it wouldn't quite feel right. I am not entirely sure how to end it or if I could generalize better at the end. I kind of like the ending I have, but I'm not sure if the point overall is coherent enough.  Thoughts/suggestions/criticism would all be appreciated. ETA: The problem here may be that this is actually a follow up (or a footnote) to another article I've been thinking of about Weasel Words and the art of misleading through langauge; related to my earlier post on Not Technically Lying]

When I was a teenager, I remember hearing a couple of riddles that I thought were neat:

"Could God draw a square circle?"
"Could God create a stone so large that even He could not lift it?"

Let me just disclaim that this post has pretty nothing to do with religion. I just think that these are great examples that many people may be familiar with. That said, consider: do either of these problems pose a threat to the existence of an omnipotent God?

The answer, as will be clear on a full exposition, is a resounding "No." These are terrible, awful, misleading arguments, and the second one illustrates a relatively common trick used to sneak past an audience's intellectual defenses.

These riddles both fail to provide relevant counterexamples for the exact same reason, even though the second may seem to make more sense. The first is simpler: a square circle is not a thing. In a practical sense, we can put the words next to each other, but there is simply no way to translate the sound "square circle" into some kind of expectation or thing in the real world, in the same way one could translate, "red barn" or "white unicorn" into an expected observation. It is impossible for anything to be both square and circular, so the fact that God cannot do something that cannot be done does not limit His omnipotence. By the same token, God could not create a married bachelor (using the strict definitions of the terms), as a bachelor is an unmarried man. The inability to violate the law of non-contradiction does not appear to be a legitimate refutation of omnipotence. If we taboo, "square circle," there isn't really a meaningful way of describing the thing you are insisting God be able to draw.

"A stone so large that God cannot lift it," is exactly the same thing as a square circle. It sounds like a problem, since it's showing that God can't create a big enough stone. But an omnipotent being could presumably lift an object of any arbitrary size. Therefore, no stone could ever meet these criteria. If we taboo "so large that God cannot lift it," there is no actual weight you could describe such a stone as having. Presumably, God could lift a stone that weighted 3^^^3 tons, or even 3^^^^^^3 tons. You've created a hollow adjective: a descriptor whose actual meaning makes an argument self-evidently bad, but which is appealing if you don't actually think about it. It's not Not Technically Lying, because it isn't untrue, it's meaningless, which makes it harder to detect (though less common). 

This is an extreme example. Usually, hollowness allows a speaker to be vague enough that they sound like they have a point when a clear definition of their terms would disprove this. Offenses in common language are usually a bit less egregious. "The president hasn't done enough to fix the economy," comes to mind as an example. What exactly, should he have done? There has probably never been a president in history whom people would generally agree has done "enough to fix the economy;" indeed, most economists would question the power of the president to seriously influence such things. "Hasn't the president failed to end the recession?" may be technically true, but it isn't really useful to call someone a failure for not doing something they lack the power to do. This example is merely illustrative; it is often easy to create descriptors that make your conclusion apparently foregone, despite their actual lack of substance.

Using such slanted terms is among the darker of the Dark Arts. It plays on its audience not by appealing to the irrational vagaries of the human mind; such efforts are, at least, often transparent. Rather, it masquerades as a rational argument, requiring complex nuance to refute. For those who are not disposed to disagree, it can escape the defense mechanisms of even a cautious mind. Understanding this concept can make it far easier to pinpoint the error in some beguiling arguments.

Comments (44)

Comment author: Raemon 05 May 2011 05:06:22AM 15 points [-]

I think the post makes good points, but all your examples are either political or religious, which should at least give you pause. (I happened to like the examples and think you made good points, but you should at least look and see if you can make the same points without going there).

Comment author: PlaidX 05 May 2011 05:37:56AM *  10 points [-]

the fact that God cannot do something that cannot be done does not limit His omnipotence.

The point is that "omnipotent" is itself a "hollow adjective", as you put it. Omnipotent doesn't mean "you can do anything that can be done", it means you can do anything, full stop.

Comment author: wilkox 05 May 2011 09:13:56AM *  6 points [-]

This bothered me too. If 'omnipotent' is defined as 'able to do things which can be done', we're all gods.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 05 May 2011 11:46:25AM 8 points [-]

Defining 'omnipotent' as 'able to do things which can be done' is an interesting move-- it makes me realize that my ideas about what can be done (especially by hypothetical extremely powerful beings) are very foggy.

Religious people bump up against that when they try to see why some prayers apparently get answered and others don't.

Comment author: Gray 05 May 2011 03:55:25PM 2 points [-]

Not really. Something "can be done" if some possible being, which may not be actual, can perform it. If there's a 500 pound barbell in front of me, and I can't lift it, this doesn't mean that the barbell can't be lifted, only that I can't lift it. If you're omnipotent, then you can lift it.

I guess I've always understood omnipotence as being so powerful that no possible being can be more powerful than you are.

Comment author: DaveX 05 May 2011 06:09:42PM 0 points [-]

With a lever, and a place to stand, you can lift the barbell.

Defining omnipotence in respect to all possible beings seems more like "suprapotent" or "ultrapotent".

How is this the actual meaning of "omnipotence" and how does it relate to "a descriptor who's actual meaning makes an argument self-evidently bad, but which is sound if you do really think about it"

I'd taboo "actual" and "really".

Comment author: jwhendy 06 May 2011 03:35:52AM 1 point [-]

I think it's more aptly described as "able to do that which is logically possible." Thus, the square circle paradox is generally deemed to be ruled out since it really is nonsense. I agree that the stone question is actually different.

HERE's some discussion about that very thing...

Comment author: prase 05 May 2011 11:45:01AM 4 points [-]

Partly because "can" is a hollow verb.

Comment author: gjm 06 May 2011 12:48:57AM 5 points [-]

Coincidentally, a can is a hollow object.

Comment author: byrnema 06 May 2011 01:49:43AM 0 points [-]

Would have been funnier if you had said,

Coincidentally, a can is a hollow noun.

Voted up anyway. I like that sort of humor.

Comment author: gjm 06 May 2011 09:38:03AM 4 points [-]

I considered both that and '"can" is a hollow noun', both of which sound better, but since at least half the point of the joke is deliberate literal-mindedness I felt that what I said should be literally correct. (A can is not a noun, though "can" is; "can" is not hollow, though a can is.) Others' mileage may of course vary.

Comment author: byrnema 06 May 2011 11:37:11AM 0 points [-]

Ah. I agree. I hadn't noticed the difference between 'a can' and can.

Comment author: Clippy 05 May 2011 06:01:07PM *  4 points [-]

Yes, it seems these critiques are more about the validity of the concept of literal omnipotence than about beings that purport to meet that standard. The problem is that literal omnipotence is impossible, and so humans that care about related problems should probably delineate what specific powers a being labeled as "omnipotent" has, rather than remain stuck on the definitional debate.

Comment author: wilkox 06 May 2011 08:43:23AM 0 points [-]

Agreed, with the addendum that in this context there seems as much disagreement over the definition of "possible" as the definition of "omnipotent".

Comment author: Sniffnoy 06 May 2011 02:11:52AM 0 points [-]

I always understood "omnipotent" as "can set the state of the universe to anything" (like someone pausing a simulation to make some changes).

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 06 May 2011 08:23:07PM *  1 point [-]

I always understood "omnipotent" as "can set the state of the universe to anything" (like someone pausing a simulation to make some changes).

This might be insufficient, if inhabitants of the universe care about the facts following from the original definition of the universe (which facts normally can't be controlled by changing the state of a simulation), and not about the state of any particular simulation (which they won't even be able to perceive without special equipment that responds to facts about the simulation).

Comment author: Sniffnoy 06 May 2011 08:25:31PM 1 point [-]

True. Which I think mostly just further goes to show the incoherence of the idea in the first place.

Comment author: TCB 05 May 2011 06:10:09AM 3 points [-]

I find this post very interesting, but I disagree with your examples about God. This comment is rather lengthy, and rather off-topic, so I apologize, but I wanted to bring it up because your post features these questions so prominently as examples.

Specifically, I don't think that the answer to the questions about God can be written off so easily as "no". It seems to me that the questions "Could God draw a square circle?" "Could God create a stone so large that even He could not lift it?" are asking about the bounds on omnipotence.

Suppose an omnipotent being exists in a universe, and that universe operates under some fundamental laws that among other things define what can exist vs. what is a contradiction. It seems fairly obvious, based on the standard definition of omnipotence, that the omnipotent being should be able to do all things that do not violate these fundamental laws and cause a contradiction. I'll call this Level 0 Power.

"Could God draw a square circle?" is asking about what I'll call God's Level 1 Power. It is asking "Does an omnipotent being have the power to change the fundamental laws of the universe?", or, if you like, "Can God reprogram the universe?" If God is in charge of the rules, then presumably he could rewrite them such that things which are currently a contradiction are no longer a contradiction. In terms of the circle/square question, this seems kind of silly, since circles and squares are not contained in the universe but are products of formal systems invented by humans. Alternatively we could ask "Can God make 1+1 add up to something other than 2?" and the answer is "Of course; even mathematicians can do this, by redefining the axioms or working in the integers (mod 2) or something." In terms of this example, then, Level 1 Power is asking "If the universe is a formal system of sorts, can God change the axioms?"

Suppose God has Level 1 Power and can change the axioms of the system (or systems) he creates. This isn't so hard to imagine; it's like a human programmer rewriting a piece of the code in the middle of running a simulation. But the question about whether God, if he existed, actually had such a power, seems like it would be a reasonable subject of discussion for theologians.

"Could God create a stone so large that even He could not lift it?" is yet a more difficult question. Is it asking about God's Level 1 Power? I think it depends on where omnipotence comes from. If God is omnipotent within the system because that's the way he coded it, then it is asking about God's Level 1 Power: all he has to do is go into the code for the universe and change the part that says he should be able to lift all stones. But if God's omnipotence is something that exists independent of the system, then this question is asking whether God can change the rules which define himself.

Anyway, your answer of "no" to these questions indicates not that the questions are worthless but that you assume an omnipotent being could only have Level 0 Power.

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 May 2011 09:24:25AM -2 points [-]

I think for this to be meaningful I'd need to know what your working definition of "omnipotent" was.

Comment author: prase 05 May 2011 11:42:23AM *  6 points [-]

Suppose an omnipotent being exists in a universe, and that universe operates under some fundamental laws that among other things define what can exist vs. what is a contradiction.

Contradictions are feature of a language (or some more formal system used to describe the universe), not of the universe. What we call physical laws are regularities which allow us to compress the observed data a bit - e.g. instead of keeping a list of planet positions at each moment, it is enough to have the initial positions, velocities and few equations of motion. Absence of contradictions is not such a law. (It is easy to imagine what violation of a particular physical law would look like, but try to imagine how a contradiction would look like. What would you observe if there was a lizard on your table and simultaneously there was no lizard on your table?)

Alternatively we could ask "Can God make 1+1 add up to something other than 2?" and the answer is "Of course; even mathematicians can do this, by redefining the axioms or working in the integers (mod 2) or something." In terms of this example, then, Level 1 Power is asking "If the universe is a formal system of sorts, can God change the axioms?"

This is exactly changing the language, and very uninteresting to theologians when, as you correctly note, mere mathematicians can do it. "1+1=2" is a string in some formal system which acquires its meaning by isomorphism with real world situations. You can redefine your alphabet to exchange the symbols "2" and "4", which would make "1+1=4" true, but its meaning would be absolutely the same as the meaning of "1+1=2" before the redefinition. It has nothing to do with fundamental laws of the universe, whatever they are.

Comment author: TCB 05 May 2011 01:37:23PM *  1 point [-]

I suppose I am assuming that the universe operates under some set of formal rules (though they might not be deterministic) independently of our ability to describe the universe using formal rules. I would also say that our inability to comprehend a given contradiction is related to the fact that we are inside the system. If God were outside the system he would not necessarily have this problem.

I disagree with your second point, though. Sure, 1 and 2 are labels for concepts that exist within a formal system we've developed, and sure, we can create an isomorphism to different labels. But I would consider this to be the same formal system. The example I gave (working in the integers mod 2) involves switching to a formal structure that is decidedly not isomorphic to the integers under addition.

Also, sorry if I was unclear - I did not mean to imply that mathematical formalisms as we've developed them are related to the fundamental laws of the universe. I only meant to say that if the universe is a formal system of some sort, and God operates outside that formal system, then it is conceivable that God could switch to a different formal system where things that we consider impossible are not, just like we can switch to a different formal system where 0 and 2. Maybe God could do something analogous and put me in the universe (mod 10 feet) so that if I walk ten feet straight across the room I'll end up where I started; this seems like a contradiction in our universe but is definitely imaginable.

[Quick edit for clarity: maybe it doesn't seem like a contradiction that I could walk ten feet away and end up back where I started, but it does seem like a contradiction that I could walk ten feet and both be ten feet away, and also be exactly where I started. This is what I imagine happening in the universe (mod 10 feet).]

Comment author: prase 05 May 2011 03:24:51PM 2 points [-]

The universe with the 10-feet torus topology would certainly be a different universe governed by different laws. Still, one could conceive of a formal system of addition which would be exactly same as our present one, only it would not apply to distances (in a straightforward way). The same way as we can conceive the addition mod 2 arithmetics.

As for the seeming contradiction, if you define "p being x feet away from q" as "there is a geodetic of length x connecting p and q", then obviously "I am ~40,000 km far from Istanbul while I am in Istanbul" isn't a contradiction, although it may look like one on the first sight. If you define distance as the length of the shortest geodetic, then it is a contradiction. Once again, this is a feature of language, not of the world.

I have no problem with the idea that God could switch to a different formal system governing the world, perhaps even one we cannot describe now formally and consider it impossible, but that would only mean that certain formal systems, such as standard arithmetic, would have less practical applications, while others, maybe the mod 2 arithmetics, or something entirely exotic, would have more. It wouldn't make "1+1=0" a theorem of standard arithmetics. In the same way, we have rules which attach adjectives "round" and "square" to objects and these rules (implicitly) specify that these categories are exclusive. Perhaps, in the new world, there would be objects which may lead us to generalise the notions of "square" and "round" to have some overlap; but then, we will not be speaking about "square" and "round", as we understand the terms today.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 05 May 2011 03:24:56PM 1 point [-]

Perhaps I shall spell this out better, but the impossibility is linguistic. A cleaner example I mention is:

Where "bachelor" means "man who is not married," God could not create a married bachelor. A married bachelor is not a thing. If you break down the definitions of circle and square, you'll see that a "square circle" is not a thing. A heavy stone that has no mass (or a heavy stone that is not heavy), or a circle that is not circular, or any other number of direct contradictions seem impossible, not as limits on power, but mostly as limits on language. That's the point I'm getting at.

Comment author: mwengler 06 May 2011 09:00:11PM 0 points [-]

I think this post is right on. I think we are IN this universe with a brain to match it, with 3-d, separation of time and space appropriate to non-relativistic speeds, and so on strongly coded in.

In terms of any powerful god, she either "lives" in a much larger universe than ours, which kicks the can down the road (is there an omnipotent god who created that universe?) or she essentially comprises the entire universe. What other way to have an entity which "knows" how every particle moves at every instant other than having that entity be the universe? The most powerful, most accurate "simulation" of any system is the system itself. Obviously, the system itself can't get a wrong answer from a bad approximation somewhere, every other simulation can. I'm talking of simulations because omniscience presumably means the model god carries in her mind is complete and completely accurate. The model in god's mind is as big and complex and at least as fast as the system itself.

But be that as it may, the only way you can play the linguistic trick of saying square circles are not real so god can still be omnipotent without being able to make them, you have, it seems to me, created a higher level physics which constrains all the universes that might be created. But where can the higher level physics come from? Is it just there, in which case our god is not the creator of the UNIVERSE universe, just of a very constrained universe that follows a bunch of atheistically determined rules. The can is kicked down the road.

So if you are interested in a god-the-creator which has had no cans kicked down the road, I don't see how you can rule out ANYTHING. Things we can't concieve of are not ruled out, certainly things we can sorta concieve of like square circles and married bachelors can't be ruled out.

How could this god create a square circle? Of course, I don't know. But I'd imagine that when you saw the square circle you would know it, even if you couldn't reconcile it with everything else you see and know about circles and squares. Indeed a square circle is trivial enough, god merely has to trigger your brain beyond the traditional sensory pathways limitation.

Comment author: wedrifid 05 May 2011 06:23:54AM *  7 points [-]

3^^^3 tons, or even (3^^^3)^^^(3^^^3) tons

Such a squandering of Knuth arrows! Why pentate a pentation with a pentation when you can hexate?! Doesn't 3^^^^3 just overwhelm you with the scope of its incomprehensibility? Or an escalation from the third Ackermann number (3^^^3) to the fourth (4^^^^4) hammer home the scope of the increase with a sense of elegant continuity?

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 05 May 2011 11:51:52AM 0 points [-]

Idle question: which is bigger, (3^^^3)^^^(3^^^3), or 4^^^^4? And how can you tell?

Comment author: khafra 05 May 2011 12:56:48PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: wedrifid 05 May 2011 04:59:23PM 2 points [-]

Idle question: which is bigger, (3^^^3)^^^(3^^^3), or 4^^^^4?

4 ^^^^^ 4 is waay bigger. And 3 ^^^^ 3 is itself bigger than (3^^^3)^^^(3^^^3).

And how can you tell?

3 ^^^^ 3 is equal to (3 ^^^ (3 ^^^ (3 ^^^ 3))). Which seems to be a more powerful way to hook up a bunch of pentation operators than having them in separate parenthised branches.

Comment author: Bobshayd 05 May 2011 02:46:46PM 1 point [-]

2 → 5 →3

Comment author: wedrifid 05 May 2011 04:35:34PM *  1 point [-]

I love Conway's notation too. Seriously elegant and naturally extensible. But why did you choose to represent 2 ^^^ 5? That's not especially big. Did you mean 2 → 3 →5 (ie. 2 ^^^^^ 3)?

Comment author: Bobshayd 05 May 2011 04:41:24PM 3 points [-]

I didn't want to get carried away.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 05 May 2011 06:34:33AM 6 points [-]

One of the claims made by some religious believers is that logic depends on God — that God sustains all the order in the universe; to the extent that without belief in God there is no basis for the belief that logical conclusions follow from their premises. Thus, God could do logically contradictory things if he wants to, because the notion of logical consistency only holds insofar as God wants it to.

In this view, if God wants to make 1 = 3, God can do that; who do you think set the world up such that 1 = 1 in the first place? Mathematics, science, etc. only work in an orderly universe; who do you think made the order? If God wants to make round squares, why not? God wrote geometry, like a programmer writes code; God can write exceptions into the rules if he wants to — just as a programmer of a cellular automata system could write exceptions into its rules: say, whenever the Life cells spell out "CONWAY", a random cell is turned on. The programmer is not bound by the Life rules; the programmer exists in a space exterior to the Life universe.

These folks will cheerfully agree that they are talking about things beyond the limit of logic, or indeed of human language; that no description of God can possibly be even remotely adequate. So saying that they are contradicting themselves will largely elicit a smile and a nod.

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 May 2011 09:22:34AM *  -1 points [-]

I find this horribly believable, but would be interested in good examples.

Edit: I should have scrolled down first.

Comment author: prase 05 May 2011 11:21:21AM 2 points [-]

I have probably met this sort of "argument", but still haven't seen it elaborated in more detail. Let's say God can make a square circle: what does the proposition mean? I suppose that most of those people would reply along the lines "we cannot comprehend God in entirety", but then, even claiming to know that God can do those things seems unfounded. After all, the statement "God can make a square circle" is formulated inside a language whose rules are entangled with the rules of logic. Even if God works outside the logic, statements about God must obey the rules of logic, else they have no interpretation.

Comment author: JohnH 06 May 2011 02:11:41AM *  -2 points [-]

These folks will cheerfully agree that they are talking about things beyond the limit of logic, or indeed of human language; that no description of God can possibly be even remotely adequate. So saying that they are contradicting themselves will largely elicit a smile and a nod.

This is because there is for some reason the idea that God is incomprehensible and/or not able to be talked about and/or not able to be talked about rationally within a large portion of religions in the world. So when someone that disagrees with them says their ideas don't make sense or are contradictory or whatever else then they know they are getting closer to a better understanding of God, as they understand it (or in this case don't understand it). Which is why they smile and nod when speaking nonsense and admitting to be speaking nonsense.

This is not the LDS position.

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 May 2011 09:21:11AM *  5 points [-]

"Hasn't the president failed to end the recession?" may be technically true, but it isn't really useful to call someone a failure for not doing something they lack the power to do.

Specifically, this looks to me a lot like the Nirvana fallacy: the hollowness is comparing reality to imagined perfection, rather than a contradiction in terms as such.

Comment author: Bobshayd 05 May 2011 02:45:33PM 3 points [-]

In the Chebyshev metric, circles ARE squares. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_(geometry) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chebyshev_distance

If God created a large enough rock, our notion of lifting becomes meaningless, since lifting is generally viewed as moving an object away from a gravitational body. However, the Earth is too big to lift, because it dominates its local gravity field. People refer to Earth as a rock, though, so the Earth is a rock that is too big to lift. If it were to be near enough to another object that it could be lifted, both objects would distort, forming one much larger object. By its sheer size, the Earth is a rock too large to lift.

Humans use metaphor and other figures of speech to mean more than one thing, or to make their words more open to interpretation, because sometimes people mean more than one thing. Poetry is an entire art that makes heavy use of conveying ideas without saying them. In fact, a lot of poetry is inscrutable when viewed only literally.

Using such figures of speech in political debate, like talking about hollow points as you defined them, might be ill-advised. But then, for points like the ones you're talking about, the people making the arguments would have to agree they are hollow. I believe most of the people saying the president hasn't done enough to fix the economy believe the president has power and should have knowledge sufficient to fix the economy. False beliefs are probably more often at fault than intentional or knowing deception, and identifying them requires knowledge contradicting those false beliefs.

Comment author: Clippy 05 May 2011 06:04:18PM 2 points [-]

Also, a cylinder is both circular and square, depending on which 2-D view one has of it.

Comment author: Perplexed 05 May 2011 03:12:20PM 3 points [-]

I read this twice, but didn't come away with anything beyond that there are some kinds of arguments you don't like, and that you wish people didn't use them. But you were unsuccessful in communicating how to recognize those kinds of arguments.

The sentence which is supposed to explain the posting title is apparently this:

You've created a hollow adjective: a descriptor who's actual meaning makes an argument self-evidently bad, but which is sound if you do really think about it.

This sentence is bad on multiple levels. Hell, it even contains words (like "who's") that are bad on multiple levels. And I still have no idea what it was intended to mean.

There may be something worth savaging here, but I think you need to do a serious rewrite before promoting this. As other people have suggested, add some examples outside the mind-killer arenas of theology and politics. In fact, lose the theology completely. And see if you can come up with a precise characterization of what it is you are objecting to.

Comment author: tim 05 May 2011 04:53:23PM *  2 points [-]

I interpreted that sentence as: "A hollow adjective is a descriptor used in a counterexample (counterargument?) to an argument. By its literal definition, the descriptor causes the counterexample to invalidate the argument. However, it actually doesn't invalidate the argument if you think about it."

And yes, I agree that the original sentence is completely confusing and needs be rewritten. Clearly a descriptor itself does not make an argument invalid. What is actually making the argument "self-evidently bad" needs to be explicitly stated.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 06 May 2011 03:22:01AM *  0 points [-]

Hmmm, insidious type. It should read "seems sound if you don't actually think about it." I meant to write, "A, not B," and apparently got distracted and wrote, "A, not A." And the contraction instead of possessive form of who was decidedly a typo - like I said, this is a draft. Thanks!

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 05 May 2011 10:36:49PM 2 points [-]

Regarding the example of "The president hasn't done enough to fix the economy".

The president makes many decisions that affect the economy. As such in the absence of any other information, vote for the incumbent if things are going well and against if things are going poorly is a decent strategy.

Comment author: Psychohistorian 06 May 2011 03:28:17AM 0 points [-]

The president makes many decisions that affect the economy.

This may be a good instance of the exact kind of thing I am objecting to. Or it may indicate that I need to refine the concept. "I make many decisions that affect the economy," is also a true statement. "In the absence of any other information" is a hole you could pilot an aircraft carrier through. This does nothing to specify what action would meet the criteria of "doing enough to fix the economy," and thus doesn't really seem at odds with my example.

The president no doubt does many things that affect health care and national health. Does it follow we should re-elect him if cancer rates are on the decline?

Comment author: chaosmosis 30 April 2012 12:51:39AM *  0 points [-]

Cogito, ergo sum.

Good example of a "hollow" argument.