Simon Blackburn tautology

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backspace

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Jan 28, 2012, 8:06:54 AM1/28/12
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http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2bf7cf30-b9e1-11e0-8171-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1gzvnfTXM

''..........:Putting all these together we get that “an act is wrong
just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
rejectable”...........................''


rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
principle that is optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not
reasonably rejectable....

rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
principle that ..... are not reasonably rejectable....

rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed ....

rephrase: ... an act is wrong when disallowed ....

rephrase: ... something is wrong when disallowed ....


final tautological bafoonism: When we define something as wrong then
it means it isn't allowed.

This tautological banality by Blackburn induces to the unsophisticated
reader to contemplate his evolutionary Epicurean world view as
following logically, instead of being a non-sequitur.

Boikat

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Jan 28, 2012, 9:55:25 AM1/28/12
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On Jan 28, 7:06 am, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2bf7cf30-b9e1-11e0-8171-00144feabdc0.html#a...
>
> ''..........:Putting all these together we get that “an act is wrong
> just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> rejectable”...........................''
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that is optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not
> reasonably rejectable....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that ..... are not reasonably rejectable....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... something is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> final tautological bafoonism: When we define something as wrong then
> it means it isn't allowed.
>
> This tautological

Are you ysing "tautology" in a rhetorical or a logical context?

> banality by Blackburn induces to the unsophisticated
> reader to contemplate his evolutionary Epicurean world view as
> following logically, instead of being a non-sequitur.

You do know the definition of "non-sequitur"?

Boikat

Kleuskes & Moos

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Jan 28, 2012, 1:01:45 PM1/28/12
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Probably not. Tautologies sequitur like a dog waiting for a bone.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
________________________________________
/ On the other hand, life can be an \
| endless parade of TRANSSEXUAL QUILTING |
| BEES aboard a cruise ship to |
\ DISNEYWORLD if only we let it!! /
----------------------------------------
\
\
___
{~._.~}
( Y )
()~*~()
(_)-(_)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Burkhard

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Jan 28, 2012, 1:08:41 PM1/28/12
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> ''..........:Putting all these together we get that “an act is wrong
> just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> rejectable”...........................''
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that is optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not
> reasonably rejectable....
>

well, not quite the same but by your normal standards of distorting
what people say
relatively close

> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that ..... are not reasonably rejectable....
>
And here we go again: if we remove arbitrarily words from what someone
says, it suddenly means something different. If a recipe says that to
bake a cake, you need flour, water and eggs, then Backspace would
"rephrase" this as : to make a cake,.. you need eggs" and then
complain t the author that even though he put the eggs in the oven as
described no cake came out.

> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... something is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> final tautological bafoonism: When we define something as wrong then
> it means it isn't allowed.

Final false witness bearing from Backspace (who ever gave him an
exemption from the 9th commandment), as the sentence has no similarity
whatsoever with the original quote.

Let's look at what it _really_ says:

“an act is wrong just when such acts are disallowed by some
principle..."

What does this mean? Essentially, it is a statement in support of
freedom. It says that the default assumption is that acts are not
wrong or allowed. One can disagree with that, and dictators of all
hues often do (everything is prohibited unless permitted), but this is
the first content bearing part of the quote.

From this result a burden of proof allocation: when it is disputed if
an act is right or wrong, the burden of proof is with the party that
declares the act wrong.

How can that party discharge that burden of proof? That follows in the
second part of the quote:
" disallowed by some principle that is optimific, uniquely
universally willable, and not reasonably rejectable”.

So if you argue that an act is wrong, merely saying that you think it
is, or that you have the power to punish anyone who does it
nonetheless, is not enough. Might does not make right. Instead, you
have to give a reason.

First, that reason has to have the syntactic form of a principle -
that is a general statement. "I don't like it" is not sufficient (this
distinguishes this approach from certain forms of emotivism, and thus
gives it content - people can and do disagree with that requirement,
it is neither obvious nor tautologous).

But not every principle will do - it has to meet three conditions at
the same time;

- your reason has to be optimific. That is, if your argument is
accepted and the act disallowed, the sum of human happiness must
increase. If this is the case is an empirical question that needs to
be decided in every individual case. again, the person arguing that
the act is disallowed has the burden of proof, and must provide a
(falsifiable) theory why disallowing the act increases human
happiness. As an example, I can't for instance tell my neighbour not
to wear red shirts, as I can't prove that in a world without red
shirts, everybody would be ceteris paribus better off. I can however
tell him to toe down the music a bit, since his marginal loss of
enjoyment is demonstrably offset by the increase of happiness of all
the neighbours who can't sleep.

- this however is not enough, In addition to being opimific, the
principle has also to be universally willable (this essentially
combines Bentham's utilitarianism with Kantian' deontology) With other
words, I can only claim that an act is disallowed if the same
prohibition applies to me (and everybody else) as well. So I can't
tell my neighbour to give me all his money, even if it would make me
happier than him (criterion 1 met), because I would not want to
universalise that principle and then hand over the money in turn to
someone else.

The third condition is that my principle must not be " reasonably
rejectable" Now that condition is of a slightly different nature from
the other two. It is again a burden of proof allocation. If I have
shown that a prohibition of an act is optimific, and universalisable,
I have discharged for the time being my burden of proof. We now have
at least some good reason to believe the world would indeed be a
better place if the action in question were disallowed.

BUT this claim can still be falsified. One way we discussed above -
maybe it was not optimific after all, that is a testable, empirical
question. The third condition allows for another way to falsify a
prohibition - by arguing that there are good reasons to make an
exception from the rule. We can for instance discuss if it was wrong
for Joe to kill Jane. My argument would be that since killing inflicts
pain, a world without murder is one where the happiness of people is
overall increased. (condition 1 met). I also argue that it is
universally willable - not just Joe should refrain from killing, but
also me and everybody else. No contradiction seem to follow. That
means condition 2 is met.

at this point we can tentatively conclude that Joe's act was wrong.
But he has a comeback under condition three: he can now argue that
there was a good reason in turn to reject the application of the
principle to his situation. a typical example would be if he claims
self-defence. He then has to show, again, that the self-defence
exception can be put in form of a principle, is optimific and
universalisable - resulting in a refined principle.

Let's use another example. I implied above that Backspace's constant
lying about people by putting words in their mouth that they have not
said is morally wrong. Under the idea proposed in the quote, I now
have the burden of proof. There are lots of different ethical theories
that are inconsistent with what the quote demands, which means that it
can't be tautologous. In particular, it is not enough for me to point
out that most cultures are against lying ( argument from moral
consensus, not demanded/covered by the quote), that God prohibits
false witness bearing (argument from authority, not covered by the
quote) or tat I have a strong moral intuition (not covered by teh
quote)

so far from being a tautology, the approach in the quote is
inconsistent with (can be falsified by) several other ethical
theories.

What the quote demands from me is instead to show that a general
prohibition to lie about people is optimific, that is that ceteris
paribus people are happier when nobody is lied about and their
reputation attacked through lying. I would indeed make this claim.
Personal reputation matters to people and gives them a reason to
behave in a good way. if lies about them are as common as truth, an
important incentive for benevolent behaviour disappears. It also
inflicts harm on the individual, and also on people who change their
behaviour towards someone because of lies spread about them (Reading
backspaces's misrepresentation of Parfit , if I believed it to be
true, could deprive me of the enjoyment of reading a good book)

The prohibition of lying can also be universalised it is generally
wrong to lie, not just for backspace, but everybody. In fact, this is
why Kant uses lying and the prohibition of lying as an example to
illustrate the categorical imperative - we can't wish to live in a
world where everybody lies all the time, since we could not any longer
coordinate our actions at all.

With that I have discharged by burden of proof, it would now be up to
backspace to fin good reasons why his action should be exempted from
the principle.


> This tautological banality by Blackburn

Just a minor point. The quote is not even from Blackburn. it is
Blackburn reporting what Parfit wrote - the article is a book review.

alextangent

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Jan 28, 2012, 3:39:39 PM1/28/12
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Nominated. OT for TO, but quite excellent.


jillery

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Jan 28, 2012, 5:01:42 PM1/28/12
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Two in one month. That boy is on a roll!

Ernest Major

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Jan 28, 2012, 5:09:01 PM1/28/12
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In message
<849c7582-45d4-4d9e...@s9g2000vbc.googlegroups.com>,
alextangent <bl...@rivadpm.com> writes
Seconded.
--
alias Ernest Major

backspace

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Jan 28, 2012, 5:17:02 PM1/28/12
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1) Are there moral absolutes and if so on which basis?
2) Do absolutes exist?

Ernest Major

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Jan 28, 2012, 5:30:08 PM1/28/12
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In message
<669214ba-886b-4afd...@k6g2000vbz.googlegroups.com>,
backspace <steph...@gmail.com> writes
Without a means to identify moral absolutes their existence or
non-existence is of little practical signficance. (Revelation is
self-evidently an ineffective means of identifying moral absolutes.)

>2) Do absolutes exist?
>
Arguably absolute zero does not exist - one formulation of the 3rd law
of thermodynamics is that you can't get to absolute zero.

But what do you mean by absolutes? And do you have any candidates?
--
alias Ernest Major

backspace

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Jan 29, 2012, 2:07:41 AM1/29/12
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On Jan 28, 6:08 pm, Burkhard <b.scha...@ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> Let's look at what it _really_ says:

> “an act is wrong just when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle..."

> What does this mean?

Lets presume you picked up a paper in the street with only that
sentence, then all it could mean as a validity is that something which
is wrong is disallowed.


> Essentially, it is a statement in support of
> freedom.

Since it says the same thing twice, it allows you to come to your
arbitrary conclusion, but all such conclusions are non-sequiturs. The
ideas on freedom or anything else might be valid, but not as a result
of logical deduction.

> It says that the default assumption is that acts are not
> wrong or allowed.

It says that the default logical validity is that acts are wrong
because they are disallowed. This is true by necessity and must go
unmentioned or risks making an argument unfalsifiable.


backspace

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Jan 29, 2012, 5:02:40 AM1/29/12
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Lies are the semantic opposite of truth. To lie is wrong, but the
question as to why something like lies or stealing is ultimately wrong
we need to contrast it with its semantic opposite: Truth itself.

Tarkski's semantic theorem of truth showed that any attempt at
defining truth leads to a contradiction, Truth itself can't therefore
be defined in terms very same axioms we have to assume as true such A
or non-A.

Something can only ultimately be wrong if it violates Truth itself.
But what is Truth? Unless you can define Truth itself, you have no
semantic opposite on which to judge something as wrong, erroneous,
disallowed or destructive.

We can only comprehend ideas in terms of primary Platonic binary
opposites as I explained at
http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/TauTology#Pattern_or_design

The Lord Jesus said ''... I am truth ....''. Since God can't be
reduced to a falsifiable construct, Tarski came to the correct
conclusion. An absolute ultimate reason as why something is correct is
because Truth himself became flesh and said: Do unto others as you
would have them do unto you.


Burkhard

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Jan 29, 2012, 5:51:44 AM1/29/12
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What do yo mean with absolutes? The quote from Parfit is compatible
with various forms of relativism and absolutism, so the issue doesn't
come up, really.

Burkhard

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Jan 29, 2012, 6:02:47 AM1/29/12
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On Jan 29, 7:07 am, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jan 28, 6:08 pm, Burkhard <b.scha...@ed.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> > Let's look at what it _really_ says:
> > “an act is wrong just when such acts are disallowed by some
> > principle..."
> > What does this mean?
>
> Lets presume you picked up a paper in the street with only that
> sentence, then all it could mean as a validity is that something which
> is wrong is disallowed.

And the lesson we learn from this? Only an utter fool would form an
opinion of what a sentence means if he only sees a fragment of it
without context. He can however form at least some educated guesses
on the basis of the syntactic structure alone

>
> > Essentially, it is a statement in support of
> > freedom.
>
> Since it says the same thing twice, it allows you to come to your
> arbitrary conclusion,

The conclusion is not arbitrary, but follows from the syntactic
structure even of such a short sentence fragment. It states that
actions are presumed right _unless_ a principle that contradicts the
presumption can be found

> but all such conclusions are non-sequiturs.

Only if you redifene "non-sequitur as "being able to comprehend
nglish.

> The
> ideas on freedom or anything else might be valid, but not as a result
> of logical deduction.
>

That sentence is word salad.

> > It says that the default assumption is that acts are not
> > wrong or allowed.
>
> It says that the default logical validity is that acts are wrong
> because they are disallowed.

No it doesn't. Your incompetent reading of the sentence says this. For
people with basic reading skills, it says that an individual act is
right, unless we can find a general principle that shows that it is of
a type of act that is disallowed, provided that the principle meets
some pretty demanding criteria.

Only if someone dishonestly snipped the "provided that.." part could
one possible think the sentence is tautologous.

backspace

unread,
Jan 29, 2012, 6:58:23 AM1/29/12
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> ''..........:Putting all these together we get that “an act is wrong
> just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> rejectable”...........................''

After reading Burkhards posts I realized I made a mistake, it isn't a
tautology but a truism.
Obviously something is wrong when disallowed by a principle not
rejectable, this goes without saying. Truisms are usually formulated
when no theory is available.
Both truisms and tautologies are logical fallacies. The quote from
Parfit was a truism and not a tautology.

The AAAS and I are aware of our intellectual limitations.

This post http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/d1d648c1ae1612a1#
in terms of what Truth is I can't see anything erroneous conclusions
based on the premise.


Burkhard

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Jan 29, 2012, 11:54:01 AM1/29/12
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On Jan 29, 11:58 am, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jan 28, 1:06 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2bf7cf30-b9e1-11e0-8171-00144feabdc0.html#a...
>
> > ''..........:Putting all these together we get that “an act is wrong
> > just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> > optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> > rejectable”...........................''
>
> After reading Burkhards posts I realized I made a mistake,

You should have realised that you made several

> it isn't a
> tautology but a truism.
> Obviously something is wrong when disallowed by a principle not
> rejectable, this goes without saying.

Leaving alone that this is not what the quote says, even your
corrupted version is far from obvious and does indeed requires saying.
It rules out entire families of approaches to ethics that are not
based on principles. This includes most versions of emotivism and
other non-cognitive approaches to ethics. This can be debated, and
indeed is debated in the relevant field.

But as I said, the quote says considerably more than your corruption
of it. it says first that _only_ those acts are wrong (ruling out
approaches to ethics that require a definition of morally right) and
also specifies three conditions that any principle needs to meet
cumulatively, that is the principles must be universalisable,
optimific and not contradicted by a counter argument. The appearance
of a truism is simply the result of you omitting words from the text.


>Truisms are usually formulated
> when no theory is available.
> Both truisms and tautologies are logical fallacies.

Which shows that you don;t know the meaning of "tautology, "truism" or
"logical fallacy". Tautologies are not fallacies (they are of the
wrong syntactic type, just to begin with) , nor is an argument
containing a tautology necessarily a fallacy. Examples are easy to
find - including, but not restricted to the entire field of
mathematics. .

>The quote from
> Parfit was a truism and not a tautology.

It was in fact neither

>
> The AAAS and I are aware of our intellectual limitations.
>
> This posthttp://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/d1d648c...

AGWFacts

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Jan 29, 2012, 1:08:05 PM1/29/12
to
On Sat, 28 Jan 2012 05:06:54 -0800 (PST), backspace
<steph...@gmail.com> wrote:

> http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2bf7cf30-b9e1-11e0-8171-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1gzvnfTXM
>
> ''..........:Putting all these together we get that "an act is wrong
> just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> rejectable...........................''

This is, of course, asinine, insulting, and wrong. Authority does
not get to dictate that which is right and that which is wrong;
authority of course can, and does, dictate what is caimed to be
right and wrong---- two vasty different facts

An act is wrong when the act harms another living being; refusing
to act when necessary is also wrong.

> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that is optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not
> reasonably rejectable....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> principle that ..... are not reasonably rejectable....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... an act is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> rephrase: ... something is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> final tautological bafoonism: When we define something as wrong then
> it means it isn't allowed.

Which is a totalitarian, authoritarian belief.

> This tautological banality by Blackburn induces to the unsophisticated
> reader to contemplate his evolutionary Epicurean world view as
> following logically, instead of being a non-sequitur.


--
"I'd like the globe to warm another degree or two or three... and CO2 levels
to increase perhaps another 100ppm - 300ppm." -- cato...@sympatico.ca

Burkhard

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Jan 29, 2012, 1:37:36 PM1/29/12
to
On Jan 29, 6:08 pm, AGWFacts <AGWFa...@ipcc.org> wrote:
> On Sat, 28 Jan 2012 05:06:54 -0800 (PST), backspace
>
> <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2bf7cf30-b9e1-11e0-8171-00144feabdc0.html#a...
>
> > ''..........:Putting all these together we get that "an act is wrong
> > just when such acts are disallowed by some principle that is
> > optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not reasonably
> > rejectable...........................''
>
> This is, of course, asinine, insulting, and wrong. Authority does
> not get to dictate that which is right and that which is wrong;
> authority of course can, and does, dictate what is caimed to be
> right and wrong---- two vasty different facts
>
> An act is wrong when the act harms another living being; refusing
> to act when necessary is also wrong.

Mhh, that is covered by quote - if an act harms another living being,
ceteris paribus disallowing the act is optimific (increases overall
happiness)

>
> > rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> > principle that is optimific, uniquely universally willable, and not
> > reasonably rejectable....
>
> > rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed by some
> > principle that ..... are not reasonably rejectable....
>
> > rephrase: ... an act is wrong when such acts are disallowed ....
>
> > rephrase: ... an act is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> > rephrase: ... something is wrong when disallowed ....
>
> > final tautological bafoonism: When we define something as wrong then
> > it means it isn't allowed.
>
> Which is a totalitarian, authoritarian belief.
>
> > This tautological banality by Blackburn induces to the unsophisticated
> > reader to contemplate his evolutionary Epicurean world view as
> > following logically, instead of being a non-sequitur.
>
> --
> "I'd like the globe to warm another degree or two or three...  and CO2 levels
> to increase perhaps another 100ppm - 300ppm." -- caton...@sympatico.ca


backspace

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Jan 29, 2012, 1:41:11 PM1/29/12
to
On Jan 29, 4:54 pm, Burkhard <b.scha...@ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> Which shows that you don;t know the meaning of "tautology, "truism" or
> "logical fallacy". Tautologies are not fallacies (they are of the
> wrong syntactic type, just to begin with) , nor is an argument
> containing a tautology necessarily a fallacy.  Examples are easy to
> find - including, but not restricted to the entire field of
> mathematics. .

Which is the mistake Sober made in his discussion about the tautology
issue. Aristotle, Democritus, Empedocles , James Hutton, Malthus
patrick matthew and Darwin who condensed their theories formulated a
rhetorical tautology, not a logical tautology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(rhetoric)
'... A rhetorical tautology should not be confused with a tautology in
propositional logic, since the inherent meanings and subsequent
conclusions in rhetorical and logical tautologies are very
different....'


Burkhard

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Jan 29, 2012, 1:58:15 PM1/29/12
to
I notice there is no reference for that claim, or an explanation where
in the opinion of the author the difference lies. With other words, as
a statement it is uselsss.

Let's assume there is such a thing as a "rhetorical tautology" that
differs from logical tautology for the sake of the argument. If it is
a rhetorical tautology (whatever that might be), it is not a non-
sequitur either, since only logic deals with valid inferences. If it s
a "rhetorical tautology" the worst you can accuse the author of is bad
writing style and lack of elegance in his expressions.


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