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Journal Bill Dog's Journal: new fallacy 10

It is claimed that there is a certain kind of logical fallacy, dubbed "No true Scotsman". But the logical fallacy is only in its ever being applied, what I hereby officially dub as the "the 'No true Scotsman' logical fallacy applies here" logical fallacy. Or the TNTSLFAH fallacy, for short.

As a general, overall good rule, those who have not progressed to even intermediate reasoning skills should definitely not be trying to wield logical fallacy application. Here, dear reader, is a comprehensive, one-question test for you to see where you fall/il:

1. Bill Dog wrote that for NTS, "the logical fallacy is only in its ever being applied". What he means here is:
A. NTS is strictly absolutely never applicable.
B. NTS is, in the vast majority of times, inapplicable.
C. NTS is always applicable.
D. Monkeys are funny.

There, now score yourself; if you answered:
C: You have the reading comprehension of a Slashdotter.
D: You're a walking argument against the legalization of drugs.
A: You have the reasoning skills of a Slashdotter.
B: Congratulations, you're at the least a halfway-intelligent human being. (You rare specimen, you!)

Wikipedia, the ultimate authority on everything, speaketh amongst thusly on NTS:

When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim,

I like the dramatic "faced with". But it never applies. For example, if someone says "Strictly speaking, I am literally saying that *ALL* Mexicans love to eat beans", then certainly the presence of a single counterexample of that would be jarring for the person. However, no one says that (or esp. even means that :). Everyone instead says "Mexicans love to eat beans". In this case, having an encounter with an occasional stray Mexican who does not love to eat beans is no trauma a'tall.

So in fact, it is the person who actually thinks NTS applies to a given scenario who's committed the error in reasoning. As in, not reasoning properly about human communication.

There is at least one other notable additional dimension in which NTS can be misapplied. As in, you can be a semi-normal human being and have grasped the natural, intended meaning just fine, but still err in thinking that NTS applies, thusly:

No true Scotsman is [...] an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion.

Therefore, NTS is only applicable to "unreasoned assertions". And not, for example, "extensively observed assertions". So take someone who's been surrounded by Mexicans all his life, and has been really paying close attention to them for the last couple of decades. His uttering "Mexicans love to eat beans" is not an assertion based on reason. He didn't say "Yada yada yada, ergo Mexicans love to eat beans". So application of NTS here would be misapplication, and a demonstration of bad reasoning in having thought otherwise.

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new fallacy

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  • Does the observation that every Catholic Priest who abuses children and/or has sex with women has violated their vow of celibacy, count for proving that for the men who keep their vows, the vow of celibacy actually seems to work?

    I've had several people call NTS on that one, but I can't figure out where my logic breaks down.

    • You would have to assert something like: "Celibacy works for all Catholic Priests." There, a single counter-example dispels the entire validity of the assertion. But you're much more likely to say "celibacy works for Catholic Priests", meaning "celibacy works for the vast majority of Catholic Priests".

      Have you ever asserted that "no true Catholic Priest violates their vow of celibacy"? To me NTS is an interesting concept, but more of a lament of an unknowable situation, than some actual logical fallacy. Ta

      • "Have you ever asserted that "no true Catholic Priest violates their vow of celibacy"?"

        No, in fact, I haven't. Priests are sinners like everybody else in the church. I do assert that violating the vow of celibacy IS a sin, but so is all sex outside of marriage, and I know plenty of Catholics who violate that one. The Church is, after all, a hospital for sinners, not a Hawaiian Resort for Saints.

        BTW, I just got done having a very interesting conversation with Leah Libresco about the difference between an

        • Many atheists are claiming she was never atheist, those who think a little bit deeper philosophically realize she was an atheist but wasn't a skeptic.

          I'm not familiar with what is the interesting difference(s) between those two, but I'll add that I tend to side with the fans of something getting to define for themselves what a "true <whatever>" is. I certainly wouldn't want someone who's not for example a Conservative or a computer programmer telling me what a real one of those is. You're an ardent Ca

          • Some definitions if you end up wanting to explore, and a link at the end to Leah's actual blog so you can judge for yourself.

            Atheist: Somebody who asserts that there is no God and that all proposed Gods are just myths with no reality.

            Skeptic: Somebody whose bit is flipped in favor of no evidence is equal to no existence (tor something to have existence, it has to have physical, observable effects in the universe).

            I'd say about 1/3rd of atheists are indeed skeptics; they've looked at the evidence available

  • Alice: "Republicans would never support the Healthcare bill."
    Bob: "Actually, I'm a Republican, and I support the Healthcare bill."
    Alice: "Well, no TRUE Republican would support the Healthcare bill."

    The No True Scotsman is an attempt to deny a group of people from a label, even though the label applies, because they disagree with something that the asserter believes to be a fundamental requirement.

    Alice: "True Christians wear crosses."
    Bob: "Actually, the Mormons don't wear crosses."
    Alice: "Like I said, true

    • The No True Scotsman is an attempt to deny a group of people from a label, even though the label applies,

      But in what sense. For example, when someone says something like "no true Republican would vote for Obamacare", the idea is that (people think that) Republicans are supposed to be the Conservative party, so it is in this sense that the label does not apply to a member of the GOP ranks who votes for a near-antithesis of Conservatism.

The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky