Average Read Time: 12 Minutes, Guest blog by Kyle Alander
As was seen previously with AntiCitizenX we have a couple of atheists that have been responding to IP video on the laws of logic defended. This time we have Martymer 81 (I will be referring to as MM81) who has misunderstood IP’s views and, therefore, sets off to strawman the claims that were made. This was a fairly easy response (which says a lot) so the fact that it is shorter than some of the other things I have written shows that MM81 has had no good arguments here. This was an extremely dishonest video. It seems IP and MM81 don’t disagree on much when it comes to logic, yet MM81 has misrepresented IP’s position to the extreme and assumed IP said things he never claimed. It is clear MM81 didn’t get fact-check a lot of his claims.
The video opens up with MM81 assuming that IP’s original video was to attack atheists when at no point in the video was the word “atheist” mentioned. This is an example of MM81 putting words in IP mouth when he never claimed that atheists deny the laws of logic. What IP did mention however were epistemic skeptics, which unlike atheist (lack of belief in God), lack any beliefs in logic or knowledge (Also known as an academic skeptic or Pyrrhonian skepticism). Unlike atheists, an epistemic skeptic is one who doubts all knowledge and therefore doubts logic and thinks that any kind of knowledge is impossible or that we can never know if knowledge is possible. I won’t get into the different views of epistemic skepticism but what they doubt is that the category of knowledge can’t be known. So in other words, if you were to ask an epistemic skeptic if they believe one can acquire knowledge you would either get one denying that they can have knowledge or one that says they “don’t know” if knowledge is possible. In both cases, epistemic skeptics are skeptics about knowledge itself and thus the term “epistemic skeptic” is there. So IP’s video was a response to that group and not atheists, so MM81 has already begun to misrepresent who IP is addressing.
Next MM81 quotes Martin Luther and uses it as an example of Christians rejecting logic when in reality he did poor research on the context of the quote.1 This really goes to show the amount of research MM81 did. He didn’t even fact-check the quote. Regardless, one can use examples of Christians rejecting logic all day but that is irrelevant to the original point of the video of whether logic should be doubted and IP’s point was that it shouldn’t.
At 1:05, MM81 says that logic is the enemy of faith when he once again doesn’t understand what Christians have understood faith to be. Faith is not the rejection of reason rather it is putting trust in someone or something. I have faith that my employer will give me a paycheck every two weeks or I have faith that my car was built the right way so it doesn’t fall apart. As a Christian, I have faith that God will one day resurrect the dead (Acts 17:31) and those that chose to follow him will have eternal life. I don’t have faith in the sense of a lack of evidence but rather that the Christian God exists (has given evidence already) and that God will fulfill his plan. So faith is not belief in lack of evidence but rather it comes from the evidence that it leads to Christianity being true. MM81 may disagree that there is evidence for Christianity but that is irrelevant to what faith actually is understood to be which makes his entire attack on faith a strawman.
At 1:27, MM81 says that IP’s definition of logic is wrong and then goes on a rant about how apologists are dishonest and knowingly go on to present bad arguments and then talks about how by definition faith cannot be defended. Sadly, this is similar to ACX childish rants and it’s embarrassing that one would begin by name calling their opponents. It’s one thing to present an argument but it’s a whole other to have a condescending rant.
Anyway, MM81 seems to not see that IP’s definition is not in all at conflict with the academic definitions of logic. In fact, it is synonymous with it and when MM81 goes on later to explain what logic is his explanation does not contradict IP’s view. He is simply explaining the same concept in a different way. (MM81 video – 3:58 mark) Yes, IP’s definition in his video is not exactly the same as MM81’s definition. MM81 says that logic is the study that makes sense of what makes sense. However, we cannot find that in any academic definition so should I say that MM81 is wrong? Of course not, since they are similar.
At 4:42, MM81 claims he has never come across this argument and that IP has not either. In fact, this is just wrong as IP got the original argument from an epistemic skeptic at Carnedes2. This was pointed out in the response to ACX. If MM81 would have checked this very blog before making his video he would not have goofed on this. This again demonstrates very poor research.
Moving on at 5:50, MM81 claims that IP thinks that the laws of logic are abstract when IP made no such claim. IP is not a platonist, in fact, I asked him and he is between nominalism and scholastic realism, which is the view that universals only exist in minds but they are founded on real relations of similarity in the world.3 So while he does not hold rock solid to one position he is open to both views and rejects traditional Platonism. Also with regards to the principle of bivalence, IP said that he rejects it and holds to three-valued logic, which is basically where a proposition can be true, false or some indeterminate. MM81 is correct in saying that there are different types of logic beyond classical logic that are used for describing different situations or propositions (he used the example of fuzzy logic), however, MM81 seems to think that IP’s video was only a defense of classical logic, which is not the point. This has been pointed out multiple times on this blog. The original video wasn’t about which type of logic is “correct” but rather that logic works (regardless of which type of logic we are using) and since it works then we have no reason to doubt it.
Ironically at 7:40, MM81 says how we should not expect a dictionary to define a “proposition” in every system of logic since it’s not a logic textbook. But earlier we saw MM81 complain that IP didn’t go about to explain every system of logic or what the laws of logic are in those different systems (since there are different laws in classical and non-classical logics). This brings up a point that if IP didn’t originally exactly specify which laws of logic he is defending then he must be using it more in a broader sense and not just the classical laws of logic. Again like I’ve said many times IP is NOT trying to show why classical logic is the correct logic but rather showing why logic as a whole (classical and non-classical) should not be doubted. The video is a response to epistemic skeptics that doubt all systems of logic not trying to make classical logic superior to other systems of logic. MM81’s video is looking more like a blatant misrepresentation than a response video. I feel like he should know better.
At 8:40, MM81 complains that the proposition “easter is the best holiday” is neither true nor false so therefore it is not a proposition. This of course only works if we are using classical logic but if we use three-valued logic then it would be a proposition, however, it would be indeterminate rather than true or false. So while he is right that we can’t determine if it’s true or false the proposition “easter is the best holiday” is still a proposition but it would be indeterminate.
Next, MM81 goes on to explain Gödel’s theorem in which he does correctly present. Nothing he said about the theorem would disagree with IP as the whole point of the theorem is that one cannot prove something within a system that has axioms. No one has denied that.
At 11:55, MM81 seems to think that it can’t be a false dichotomy to say something is either true or false. Once again under a three-valued logic, it would be a false dichotomy since there is a third option which is a proposition that is indeterminate.
At 13:20-15:40, MM81 begins to explain the liar’s paradox. While he is right that there is no “single bullet” type solution and there is nothing here that would contradict IP. Again, IP said in his video that we cannot prove something is 100% true within a system of logic. That was the whole point of his video and why Gödel’s theorem was brought up. Basically, the liar’s paradox does not disprove logic since its okay to have certain propositions with no truth value (which means it’s not a proposition in any system of logic). MM81 seems to imply IP denied this.
While there are some systems of logic that can assign truth values to certain propositions that classical logic cannot (the example of ‘easter being the best holiday’ as an indeterminate proposition) and why there is no “correct” system of logic there is nothing here that would contradict IP. So MM81 has not addressed IP original point which is that there are no good reasons to doubt logic (regardless of which system).
Next, with regards to the mathematical usage of (i), MM81 falsely equates the mathematical definition with what we mean in a philosophical sense. IP used (i) as an analogy to explain why there would be a third truth value besides true or false. IP never denied we can define (i) in a mathematical way, so MM81 is missing the whole point. This is ironic because MM81 uses this to imply IP doesn’t understand high school math, and in reality, all this shows is MM81 can’t pay attention to a simple youtube video. (i) would be analogous to that indeterminate truth value of between true and false. MM81 made a big deal about claiming we can define (i), which is the square root of -1. IP never denied this and simply noted we cannot understand it (philosophically) in terms of other numbers and quantities. This is incredibly dishonest of MM81.
At 17:07, first he contradicts himself when he says how this has nothing to do with Gödel’s work. Earlier at 11:00, MM81 explained Godel’s theorem and how saying “the truth of this sentence is unprovable” is a way to understand why one cannot 100% prove something within a system of axioms. The point that IP was making was that just because we cant 100% prove something within a system that doesn’t mean we should doubt logic works. Since epistemic skeptics try to use the liar’s paradox and Gödel’s theorem to show that logic cannot be provable the response IP made to the epistemic skeptics was the principle of particularism (more on that later) so Gödel is relevant here as epistemic skeptics have used those types of arguments to debunk logic. So MM81 has once again misunderstood IP.
Second, no one denied that logic is a field of study. However, IP was addressing the skeptics that do think that logic as a whole does not work (since its not 100% provable due to Gödel’s theorem). Third, MM81 fails to distinguish between reasonable doubt and the doubt used by epistemic skeptics. Most of our reasonable doubt is because we have logical and good reasons to doubt something (such as doubting the earth is flat) however the doubt of the epistemic skeptic is that our reason and logic is flawed simply because we cannot 100% prove it to be true. This is not reasonable doubt since the epistemic skeptic has presented no good reason to doubt logic and so the point of IP’s video was that when we have good logical reasons to believe something to be true then we should believe them and not simply doubt them by the fact that logic itself is not 100% provable. This was literally the point of defending logic (regardless of its forms) and of IP’s video. The fact that MM81 didn’t get this makes his video look more like propaganda.
Next, at 18:00, MM81 once again misunderstands IP’s point. One can deny classical logic to work in certain situations which is why one must use other systems of logic to give truth values to propositions. When IP says that we can’t doubt logic he is not saying one can’t deny classical logic but rather one can’t deny logic as a whole, so this includes all systems of logic. Any thought or argument one gives will depend on some system of logic regardless if its classical, non-classical, fuzzy, three-valued logic, linear logic, non-reflexive logic, model logic etc. Literally one cannot deny logic as a whole without presupposing some system of it.
Finally, at 19:06, MM81 misunderstands IP yet again. IP does not believe in everything that randomly pops into his head but rather accepts it if there are good reasons to do so and there are no good reasons to doubt those beliefs. This is the whole point of epistemic particularism and it was the formal response IP gives to the epistemic skeptics. At this point, MM81 is not even trying to get what IP points are and it’s embarrassing.
The rest of the video is just MM81 talking about why religion discourages doubt and this shows he is not even trying to address IP points concerning logic. Nothing in MM81 response did anything to take down IP’s original points. The whole response has been nothing but strawman and misrepresentations of what IP was trying to explain. While it’s true that some of IP’s followers have equated the epistemic skeptics with atheists at no point did IP mention atheists in his video. Perhaps it’s time for people to not equate IP with his followers or equate the classical laws of logic with logic itself. The biggest straw man in the whole video was that IP was making classical logic superior to other forms of it when in reality IP was not concerned with the different systems of logic but was concerned with those that deny logic as a whole and doubt all the systems of logic. This same straw man has been the most common from all the responses IP has gotten from other bloggers and YouTubers on his video that defends the laws of logic. While I myself do not intend to respond to each one in detail as I have here I will say that they have all been straw man attacks against IP.
- “Richard Dawkins is wrong: Martin Luther was not against “Reason” or ….” 9 Dec. 2011, https://simonpetersutherland.com/2011/12/09/richard-dawkins-is-wrong-martin-luther-was-not-against-reason-or-logical-correctness/. Accessed 10 Feb. 2019.
- “Arguments of Indirect Skepticism – YouTube.” 23 Nov. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBlDGTZUOek. Accessed 10 Feb. 2019.
- “Scholastic Realism | Dictionary | Commens.” http://www.commens.org/dictionary/term/scholastic-realism. Accessed 11 Feb. 2019.