The conclusion "Love is good" actually has a very different meaning for the person making the argument. Again, arguments are not true or false; propositions are true or false. Arguments (and their conclusions) are valid or invalid. So, when you say that the "final statement" (i.e., the conclusion of the argument) is false, are you referring to the conclusion as a proposition or as a deduction from the premises? If the first, then you would say that the conclusion is either true or false, depending on whether or not it corresponds to the facts; if the second, then you would say that it is either valid or invalid, depending on whether or not it adheres to laws of logical inference. You need to be clear on which concept -- truth or validity -- you're referring to, when you evaluate the conclusion.
It can have a different meaning, depending on what a person means by the term "love." I thought I made that distinction in Part 1 of the article. When dealing with concepts, we know we can always go look at the referents of the concepts. If we did the same with the proposition, we would notice that the arguer would use radically different referents than we would. They would look at a sacrificial love and say it's an example of love being good. We would disagree. And thus we would argue that their final statement is actually false (as well as their argument being false).
Forget what you think Schwartz means by love. Can you see what I'm getting at? If just the statement "Love is good" has radically different referents, doesn't it mean that one view is false? Yes, of course! I thought I made that clear in the article. But, as I also stated, the meanings of the terms in the conclusion are determined by their meaning in the premises. A term can't mean one thing in the premises but another thing in the conclusion; otherwise, the argument commits the fallacy of equivocation.
If we take that to be the thrust of Schwartz's argument, it makes sense (although we'd still have to decide if it's universally applicable). But it's not the main thrust of Schwartz's argument. The main thrust of his argument is that false premises necessitate a false conclusion, which is incorrect. As I illustrated, a true conclusion can validly be derived from false premises. Of course, if you mean something different than I do by the terms in the premises, then (if you're consistent) you're going to mean something different by the conclusion. That's obvious. But it's not the gist of Schwartz's argument.
We could say that by understanding the argument made, we can see how their final statement means something entirely different from it's face value. We might then make the more aggressive statement that if they actually derived the conclusion from false statements, the end result at least partially contains those false premises, and so is false. This is not correct. The conclusion contains (or reflects) the meaning of the terms in the premises, not the truth or falsity of the premises. The conclusion can be true, even if the premises are false. All that is required for the truth of the conclusion is that it correspond to reality. I've already given an example to demonstrate this.
But we can take it step by step. You say: Joe, in the very statement you quoted, I was careful to specify the kind of love. I said selfish love! So you know the kind of love I'm talking about.
Observe that there is a difference between the proposition, "(Selfish) love is good" and the proposition "(Selfish) love is good, because...." The first proposition is true, while the second could be false. Let's look at this in more detail. If someone said "love is good", would you dare to tell them that you completely agree? I certainly wouldn't.
Love certainly can be good, but the context would matter a lot, wouldn't it? Yes! I have never denied that; in fact, I've stressed it repeatedly.
If they made a blanket statement like that, we'd have to rule it as false. Why do you say that, when the statement, "Selfish love is good" is clearly true?
So at least in this case, the statement "love is good" needs to be limited and applicable in certain contexts. Yes, if it's simply the statement "love is good," but if the meaning is clear, as in the statement "Selfish love is good," then the statement is limited and applicable only in certain contexts.
By looking at the person's argument that makes this conclusion, we can see that their choosing a context and scope that make it false. Once again, the meaning of the conclusion needs to be understood before it can be evaluated. And by seeing the false arguments, we understand enough of the meaning of the conclusion to dismiss it. Again, arguments are not false; propositions are false. Arguments are valid or invalid. Of course, the meaning of the conclusion needs to be understood before it can be evaluated! I don't know anyone who has ever disputed that.
But in this quote, you used the term 'selfish'. So let's assume that for now (although I'm not convinced) that the conclusion means that. It doesn't necessarily mean that; it depends on what the term "love" means in the premises!
You argue the first statement is true, but the second may not be. Let's be clear what we mean by the "first statement" and the "second statement." I think you may have inadvertently dropped the context here. Remember, the first statement says "Selfish love is good." The second statement says "Selfish love is good, because..." The second statement incorporates a reason, which may render the statement false, depending on what that reason is. That's all I was saying.
Is the first one true? Objectivism doesn't have a theory of propositions, but I think if it is anything like how we treat concepts, we can look at what are the referents of the statement. It's making a statement about reality, in this case a generalized statement, and we can look at the specific examples. So as I said before, I think we can argue that the first statement is factually wrong. And in fact, we can know that it's wrong because they came to the conclusion in a way that makes them choose incorrect referents. What conclusion are you referring to here?
So while the statement "(selfish) love is good" might be able to refer to a statement about reality that we would agree with, this example highlights the need for understanding the context and meaning of the proposition. It just means that a statement like that can have more than one meaning, and to judge it, we need to know what the meaning is. Of course. I didn't think this was ever at issue. I'm still not sure why you thought it was.
And this explains why I'm hesitant to discard the "because" part of the statement. Saying "love is good" connects these two concepts, but without understanding what kind of connection is meant, we can't judge the validity of it. Yes, the reasons for the conclusion (i.e., the premises) alert you to the meaning of its terms. If you know the meaning of the terms in the premises and there is no equivocation in the argument, then you can know the meaning of the terms in the conclusion. But the conclusion still does not include the premises, which is why we the call it a "conclusion"; we're concluding something from the premises.
You mean that we can't judge the truth of it, not the validity. "Validity" refers to the conclusion's derivation from the premises, not to its correspondence with reality. We can't figure out what the referents are. We can see that it's a statement, but we don't really know what it means.
You say: Let's be very clear: it doesn't contain the premises in the sense of including them as part of the proposition forming the conclusion; the conclusion is a derivation from the premises. In other words, the conclusion doesn't restate the premises, which is what you were suggesting. Rather, it is implied by the premises.
It is very important not to confuse an argument with its conclusion. What you're saying is a conclusion is really an argument containing a conclusion. Actually, I thought I was saying that the conclusion contains some amount of the argument.
But I don't think I'm confusing the argument with the conclusion. I'm not trying to judge the conclusion based on whether it was properly derived from it's conclusions. I don't follow you. Do you mean to say that the conclusion isn't true? Of course, the meaning of the conclusion is based on the initial premises. That's the very point I made in Part 1 of the article. Joe, my analysis is somewhat technical. So, for clarity's sake, you need to be careful how you phrase your comments. It also helps to have some familiarity with deductive logic and its terminology. Kelley's text on logic, The Art of Reasoning is a good primer.
You mean from its "premises." :-) But you were equating the argument with the conclusion when you said that the conclusion is "Love is good, because...." Here you are saying that the conclusion is the conclusion plus the premises, since the "because..." clause constitutes the premises. That would be a mistake, and I agree that we would call it "invalid" in that case.
I wouldn't say it's "invalid," just that the proposition would then include more than simply the conclusion. But I'm not even suggesting that the argument is invalid. I'm just saying that the meaning of the conclusion, the referents which it describes, are based on the initial premises. It's not the argument that's wrong. The meaning of the conclusion is wrong.
You say: Again, I'm not sure I follow you. If the meaning of the terms in the conclusion is the same as their meaning in the premises, then what is meant by the terms in the conclusion is what is meant by them in the premises. This meaning is preserved quite irrespective of whether or not the premises are true or even whether or not they imply the conclusion.
The meaning of the conclusion depends on the meaning of its constituent terms, whose meaning is itself determined by their meaning in the premises. This might be the major difference in our lines of thought. I don't think you can just take the constituent terms, slap them together, and say that's the meaning of the conclusion. The conclusion connects these constituent terms through a specific means. The person making the conclusion means something in particular.
Maybe this is a technical disagreement. Maybe you're saying that technically, the conclusion is only stating that there is a relationship between love and good, and doesn't at all say or mean anything about the specific kind of connection. So even though it was generated by seeing a specific connection, the conclusion actually makes a more generalized statement? If you understand the meaning of the terms in the conclusion and what it is saying, then whatever it states, that's what it states. Wherever you're going with this, I think you've lost me. :-)
That doesn't really make sense to me. If they generated the conclusion by a specific means, it seems that the "love is good" is referring to that conclusion. Otherwise, it would be like them following the logic, coming to a conclusion supported by the logic, but then stating "We can see that there is indeed some connection between love and good, and that love must at times be good, but we make no statement about why that's the case or how exactly love is good". It's only this super generalized statements where the referents are not just abstracted, but completely dropped, that we could then say "Why yes...they came to a true conclusion through false premises!". Again, you've lost me. I don't know what it is that you're saying here.
You then add an example of your own: You don't agree with their reasons for saying that all socialists are collectivists, but you do agree with the proposition forming their conclusion that all socialists are collectivists.
All socialists are atheists. (False) This one is more difficult because it's harder to understand how someone would make this argument, and thus it's harder to see what the conclusion is referring to for them. It has to be more than just statistical. They have to have reasons for supporting these premises. Maybe they think socialists are atheists because a belief in god is somehow incompatible with socialism. And maybe they think that all atheists are collectivists because a belief in god is necessary to be an individualist. So then they make their conclusion that socialists can't be religious, and so they can't be individualists. So the connection made is via their godlessness, and not through their shared anti-individualism. The conclusion centers around the belief that atheism is the connection.
All atheists are collectivists. (False)
Therefore, all socialists are collectivists. (True)
Yes, "atheism" is the middle term. Do we agree with that? No.
So again, only taking a very sterile view of their conclusion, as if they're just words and not meaning anything deeper, can we say that it's correct. No, we don't. We agree with their meaning. They mean the same thing by the proposition forming the conclusion that we do.
I don't know what you mean by "sterile." The conclusion means what it means, irrespective of the truth or falsity of the premises and irrespective of the validity or invalidity of the deductive process. The conclusion doesn't state the premises and it doesn't mean the premises. It means the conclusion. But if we understand that they mean something entirely different than we do, we'd have to say that we disagree. We don't disagree with every possible meaning of the statement. We just disagree with their meaning.
So if we take the statement at face value, assuming it's not referring to any specific kind of connection, but just simply stating the existence of a connection, only then could we say that it's true. But that's all the proposition forming the conclusion does state. Qua proposition, it doesn't state that the premises are true or even that they imply the conclusion. It simply states that all socialists are collectivists, which is true. Qua inference, it also purports to imply the premises, and since it does so correctly, we can say that it's valid as well. But there is nothing in the conclusion, either in terms of its truth or its validity, that implies the truth or falsity of the premises. Indeed, the premises are identified as false based precisely on the assumption that the terms "socialist," "atheist" and "collectivist" mean what they normally mean. It is precisely because these terms reflect normal usage that it is false to say that all socialists are atheists, and that all atheists are collectivists. Therefore, since the terms in the conclusion must mean the same thing as those in the premises, the conclusion that "All socialists are collectivists" must itself reflect normal usage and, accordingly, is just as true as its premises are false.
But, and this gets into your second article discussion of the arbitrary, the statement becomes arbitrary. Only be assuming there's no reason for stating it or there's no knowledge which it's based on can we say that's it's true. Why do you say that? The conclusion is true if and only if it corresponds to reality, and since the conclusion in this case does correspond to reality, it is true, regardless of the fact that the reasons for it (i.e., it's premises) are false.