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The concept of a tautology

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Description: How to identify tautological formulations of observations.
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mentari
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« on: April 02, 2009, 09:06:51 AM »

http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/TauTology

== Tautological expressions and propositions ==
The tautological expression (''an unmarried bachelor'') contains a redundant word ("unmarried"), but has meaning and can be used to form a meaningful proposition, e.g. "John is an unmarried bachelor". This proposition is not a rhetorical tautology because the intent isn't to deceive. It could be considered as unnecessarily language verbosity. The tautological proposition (''all bachelors are unmarried'') stated in a class on formal logic theory on the other hand, gives us no information that is not already contained in the definition of the word "bachelor". The [[Pragmatics]] or context with 'unmarried bachelor' by the user would determine whether it is a tautology or language verbosity. In an academic setting such as a peer reviewed journal propositions are put forward in an attempt at deriving an independent explanation for an observation. Tautologies in such a setting would be a tautological proposition and unacceptable. Tautological expressions used in an informal setting such as a sports event with its associated colloquial speech is acceptable because of the [[pragmatics]] with it. The dividing line between a tautological proposition and expression is [[pragmatics]].

== Example of a tautological proposition ==
''The geological record features episodes of high dying, during which extinction-prone groups are more likely to disappear, leaving   extinction-resistant groups as life's legacy.''
:S.J. Gould & N. Eldredge, "Punctuated equilibrium comes of age", '''Nature (1993) 366:223-7, p. 225'''.
'''Question:''' How was this "extinction-proneness" measured, except by noting that the groups disappeared?

Gould formulated the proposition so that it cannot be disputed: "''..certain groups were extinction prone because they disappeared..''" But the real reason for their extinction needs be derived independently elsewhere. Nothing is explained by stating that because they were ''extinction prone'' they disappeared, their disappearance implies that they were ''extinction prone.'' ''Extinction'' and ''disappear'' are a synonymous play with words that alludes to the same fact but masquerades as an explanation.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2009, 19:09:58 PM »


Quote
''The geological record features episodes of high dying, during which extinction-prone groups are more likely to disappear, leaving   extinction-resistant groups as life's legacy.''

and

Quote
Nothing is explained by stating that because they were ''extinction prone'' they disappeared, their disappearance implies that they were ''extinction prone.

But why do you assume that Gould was trying to explain anything? It looks like a mere observational statement to me. 

Its similar to someone stating: "The grass is green and healthy."

It conveys the fact that the grass is in a certain condition, and that is all it does. It does not aim to explain why the grass is in the condition it is. So it makes no sense for me to say that, because healthy grass is also green, the statement doesn't explain why the grass is green.

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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2009, 23:45:12 PM »

More inane semantic hocus-pocus.  By that standard, saying that the cat enjoyed the milk would be a tautology.  (Or maybe even a TauTology.)  How else was the cat’s affinity for milk established except by noting that the cat lapped it up?

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mentari
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 14:03:21 PM »

More inane semantic hocus-pocus.  By that standard, saying that the cat enjoyed the milk would be a tautology.  (Or maybe even a TauTology.)  How else was the cat’s affinity for milk established except by noting that the cat lapped it up?

'Luthon64

What is the real reason a cat has an affinity for milk ? Obviously we like icecream but what is the actual biochemical neorological reasons for liking it.  You will have to read the full article on scratchpad I can't do it for you, especially the part where Darwin stated "propositions which cannot be disputed" which I defined on Wikipedia as a tautology - read both articles for the full context, I can't re-explain everything here. I already did it on Wikipedia and scratchpad.

Luthon you obviously think I am a bit "dense" - read the Wikipedia article - 80% of which I wrote and tell me where exactly do you disagree with the editors of Wikipedia. If they have accepted my logic then motivate why you think I am in error.
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 15:41:15 PM »

Something sweet for after reading up on TauTology. Wink
I got halfway through the first section before I got a headache. I blame the hot weather we are having and the fact that it is Friday...
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dan_dennett_cute_sexy_sweet_funny.html
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Mefiante
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 17:11:42 PM »

What is the real reason a cat has an affinity for milk ? Obviously we like icecream but what is the actual biochemical neorological reasons for liking it.
In other words, you take my point that by your standards saying that the cat enjoyed the milk would be a tautology.  Good.  At last we agree on something.  As for your pitiful attempt at goalpost shifting, we don’t know what the real reasons are because we don’t yet have an adequate theory of mind.  Do you have one?  Because if you do you can make a name yourself, you know.

Luthon you obviously think I am a bit "dense" - read the Wikipedia article - 80% of which I wrote and tell me where exactly do you disagree with the editors of Wikipedia. If they have accepted my logic then motivate why you think I am in error.
No, I don’t think you’re ‘a bit "dense".’  Your use of the inverted commas would negate that suggestion – something a person with your implied rhetorical acumen and evident semantic concerns should have spotted immediately.

But to answer your demand:  Scratchpad isn’t Wikipedia itself.  Your article has received precisely one edit.  It has been up for all of two months.  Only by the largest stretch of one’s credulity does that constitute acceptance of your logic by the editors of Wikipedia.  The article is primarily a critique of Darwin’s language use, not his scientific and empirical observations.  You have plucked fewer than 500 words from The Origin of Species, a book that runs into a few hundred pages.  In each case you then point out your erroneous view that the use of certain words is scientifically tautological when in reality the passages are illuminating or explanatory, not pivotal to the overall narrative.  This, to you, means that Darwin’s thinking is invalidated, as evidenced by your labelling the cited passages “key.”  Your critique is akin to denying the artistic merit of a painting because the artist had the temerity to do more than just a pencil sketch.

So, please go ahead and promote your article to full Wikipedia status before you start taking your own nonsense as gospel.

'Luthon64
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