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[ΛΟΓΟΣ] De Logica Pragmatica

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:15 am
by Gaius Florius Lupus
Salvete, collegae philosophici!

Most logical conclusions that we are familiar with are based on facts. We have two facts as premises and our conclusion is a deducted fact, which is logically entailed in the premises.
Exempli gratia - a simple modus ponens:
[(p ⇒ q) ∧ p] ⇒ q
p: Caesar crosses the Rubicon.
q: There will be civil war.
In natural language:
IF Caesar crosses the Rubicon, THEN there will be civil war AND Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, THEREFORE there will be civil war.

Each statement is a fact.
But what if a statement is not a fact that is, but a wish, what should be?
This is what is grammatically called optative. In Latin it is expressed by the subjunctive mood, in English by auxiliary verbs like "should", "ought to", "must", "have to" etc.
Let us turn the example above into a modus tollens with one premise in optative mood:
[(p ⇒ q) ∧ ¬q] ⇒ ¬p
In natural language with the second q in optative:
IF Caesar crosses the Rubicon, THEN there will be civil war AND there should NOT be civil war, THEREFORE Caesar should NOT cross the Rubicon.
The second proposition ¬q (There should not be civil war.) as well as the conclusion ¬p (Caesar should not cross the Rubicon.) are not facts. They are only wishes.We know that Caesar actually crossed the Rubicon and that there was a civil war. Nevertheless it may also be true that there should better not have been a civil war and the conclusion that Caesar should therefore not have crossed the Rubicon is a valid deduction from the premises.

We can also imagine the same example with the first q being optative.
[(p ⇒ q) ∧ p] ⇒ q
In natural language:
IF Caesar crosses the Rubicon, THEN we must start a civil war AND Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, THEREFORE we must start a civil war.
Again the conclusion is optative.

We can establish the rule that whenever one premise is optative, then the conclusion must also be optative.

With optative statements we have the problem that we cannot find out their truth value (true or false) by observation, because only facts can be observed. So how can we establish, whether an optative statement is true or false?
Formal logic cannot help us here.

We have discussed this problem already in an earlier thread. C. Curtius Philo Aurelianus and I came independently to the solution that there are exactly three (or two, if we take the first two as one) basic priorities of logical pragmatism.

Epicurus has also solved the problem. His epistemology has three sources of knowledge:
1. Empirical observation
2. Pre-conceptions that are a priori valid, id est logic
3. Faculty to distinguish pleasure and pain

This third faculty to distinguish pleasure from pain is the basis of all optative statements. Pleasure and pain are so called qualia. This means they can only be experienced, but not communicated. It is impossible to know what pain is without having it experienced. However its judgement is clear and unequivocal. If something is painful (like hitting the finger with a hammer), then it is without doubt a negative experience. But there are also other experiences, which are without any doubt pleasurable. And of course there are a lot of experiences, which are indifferent. Accordingly the first priority of logical pragmatism should be used to achieve the most positive outcome for our subjective perception.

The second priority needs to be assigned to our own continuity, i.e. survival. It must be avoided under any circumstances that the continuity of our consciousness is terminated, threatened or our ability to maintain it diminished. Because if our existence is discontinued, there will not be any kind of perception and all efforts for a further positive outcome would be in vain. we could understand this priority as part of the first, but considering that death is actually neutral, not negative, we should separate this priority from the first.

Since our resources are limited, the third priority needs to be efficiency. We cannot afford wasting resources (efforts and time) for anything that does not serve our survival or benefit, since this would diminish the available resources for the first two priorities.

Priorities of Logical Pragmatism

I. Benefit - Seeking pleasurable perceptions, avoiding discomfort
II. Self-Presevation - Continuity of our self (avoiding threats and diminished fitness for survival)
III. Efficiency - Avoiding wasting efforts for anything that does not serve the first two priorities

For every optative statement it must be possible to trace it back to one of these priorities. If this is not possible, then the optative statement cannot be true.

Point of Reference

The three priorities of logical pragmatism however require a point of reference. We always need to ask the question: beneficial for whom?
The principal point of reference is the individual of course. But as soon as two or more persons discuss the best course of action the reference point must shift to the community, in which this discussion takes place. Otherwise it would not be agreeable. The possibility of a consensus is a necessity. This is why all ethics must be based on the golden rule of reciprocal ethics (Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.).
If there is a doubt about which one is the proper point of reference in a discussion (e.g. the family, the nation, all of humanity) on which the priorities of logical pragmatism have to be applied, then it is always the smallest community of which the participants in the discussions are all members. Exempli gratia: If the discussion is among people of one nation, then the nation is the proper reference point, not humanity as a whole.

The proper priorities with the Republic as reference point would therefore be:

I. Benefit - Seeking what is beneficial for the Republic and prevent any harm to it.
II. Presevation - Strengthening the Republic and ensuring its survival.
III. Efficiency - Avoiding unnecessary expenses for the Republic.

Logical pragmatism has therefore no absolute ethical guideline, its ethics depends always on the point of reference.

We have seen that logic can even tell us how to act correctly, not just tell us, whether statements are true or false. Even ethics is a matter of logic and there is always only one proper course of action that is agreeable. Disagreement and conflict is impossible among rational persons. This is a fact that has already been discovered by the Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand (founder of the school of Objectivism).
And this is why it is so important that we learn the principles of logic and act according to them. It is the only way out of the violence that has been the scourge of humanity for so many millennia. As long as the actions of humans are guided by arbitrary beliefs, it will result in violence between groups of different beliefs. Only if we follow the rules of logic, we can all agree on what is right and wrong.

Keywords: optative mood; qualia; pain and pleasure; priorities of logical pragmatism; point of reference

C. Florius Lupus