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More on "Circular Reasoning"- Response to 1/24/03

Reader comment on item: The Enemy Within [and the Need for Profiling]
in response to reader comment: Circular Reasoning

Submitted by Paul Stout (United States), Feb 3, 2003 at 20:56

"The Enemy Within" [1-24-03] contained a sentence which contained three statements which have caused some discussion:

1. Most Muslims are not Islamists,
2. Most Islamists are not terrorists, and
3. All Islamist terrorists are Muslims.

Standish Lawder [1-24] considers these statements to be intended as a syllogism, with the first two statements supposedly
meant to lead to the third statement as a logical conclusion.

Don Miller [1-31] also views this as an (invalid) syllogism.

True, these statements do not form a valid syllogism. But, they do not include words such as "hence" or "therefore" or "since" which would indicate that the author meant for the sentence to be understood as a syllogism.

I believe that Daniel Pipes intended them to be three separate statements of fact, with the third not logically dependent on the other two, but simply a statement of Pipes' understanding of the facts. Pipes confirmed this interpretation in his answer to Miller: "Mine was not an exercise in logic, but an empirical observation."

There seems to be some confusion relating to logic and syllogisms in some of the comments. My remarks are aimed at
clearing up some of that.

The first two statements, considered as premises in a syllogism, yield no conclusion. The first and third statements, considered as premises in a syllogism, yield only the conclusion that "Some Muslims are terrorists", which is implicit in Premise 3.

The second and third statements, considered as premises in a syllogism, also yield the same conclusion "Some Muslims are
terrorists", which is implicit in Premise 3.

Considering the statements as any kind of syllogism thus yields no additional insight whatever, beyond the information
conveyed by the three statements considered separately. Lawder offers a "paraphrase" of Pipes' three statements:

4. Most ripe apples are not green.
5. Most green apples are not ripe.
6. All red apples are ripe.

Alan Miles [1-25] points out that Lawder's statements 4-6 do not mirror Pipes' statements accurately and are not a valid
syllogism, but does not state why. There are two reasons why this is the case. (1) Premises 4 and 5 contain between them only
two terms; a valid syllogism requires three. (2) The "conclusion", Statement 6, contains a term (red apples) which is
not contained in either of the premises.

Lawder's and Miller's objections to Pipes' three statements are unfounded. Considered as statements of presumed fact, they
are non-contradictory. Whether they are true is a question of fact, not of logic. Pipes stated that he intended them as
statements of fact. There was no "circular reasoning".
Paul Stout
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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