Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stolen Concept Fallacy

Stolen concept fallacy 

I'm beginning to notice, that every time I encounter reference to the "fallacy of the stolen concept", I find in the justification of the supposed fallacy, a certain amount of the fallacious use of circular-reasoning/begging-the-question at play and I wonder if anyone else as identified this phenomenon.

The "stolen concept fallacy" usually requires a particular definition to be asserted by the one supposedly identifying a "stolen concept" argument (fallacious appeal to a false dilemma?) and then uses the particular definition as proof of the meaningfulness of the definition; creating a situation in which a proposition is non-falsifiable by definition(?) .

I'm listening to Pekoff? lecture where he says (paraphrase), "it is not necessary to refute the [deniers of objectivism] for to deny objectivism, one must concede that they are making an objective statement about reality." 

If someone were to agree that "A is A" is a logically valid form, does not necessarily (non-sequitur) follow that any term substituted for "A" is meaningful and/or coherent; for instance, "Brtpwtop is Brtpwtop" or "Jabberwocky is Jabberwocky" may be logically valid but are not necessarily sound in that the terms lack sufficient definitional coherence to be meaningful (meaningless) but if the definition provided claims to take the form of, "The definition of 'A' is 'A'" then how is this avoid critique of begging the question?

Just because a person denies a particular theory of language, does not necessitate that they have "stolen the concept of language"; just because a particular formulation of logic/reality is denied, does this necessitate that all possible theories are denied? To claim this, one would have to argue that their concept/theory is the only possible concept/theory (false dilemma), but if the proof consists of a proof by definition, then why is this definition the only possible definition that can be used?

I think that the "property is theft" is a good example of how the "stolen concept" identification possibly uses some fallacies of it's own, especially because this is one of the classic/quintessential examples of the supposed "stolen concept"...

I believe that the statement, "property is theft" originates with Proudhon, who is arguing for an alternate theory/definition of "property" in which he uses an alternate term "possession" to describe legitimate-use (what you or I might ordinary describe as "property". Proudhon is essentially criticizing the property theory of Locke, essentially arguing that the "mixing of labor" with "unowned" objects/material "in a state of nature" does not confer absolute control over every aspect of the materials surrounding the transformation but only to the use/transformation itself. In Proudhon's view, Lockean "property" is arbitrarily expansive, conferring an assignment of "property" in excess of what is justified by reason (the use/transformation only) and thereby creates claims of the legitimacy of the use of violence to "defend" beyond the actual use/transformation, in effect, to arbitrarily/unnecessarily exclude persons of use of objects that are not directly in-use/transformed. Perhaps we could translate Proudhon's "Property is theft" to mean, "Lockean property theory permits/legitimizes persons to make arbitrary claims to the ownership of materials that they have not put into use nor transformed; Lockean property theory advocates the arbitrary-exclusion/'theft' of objects/material from potential 'homesteads'/'transformers'".

I might disagree with Proudhon, but i would not agree that he has not "stolen" the concept of "property"; Proudhon has not contradicted himself, because he has contradicted my theory/definition; he has rather offered an alternate theory (it may be an inferior theory but that's another argument entirely). In order to say that that Proudhon has "stolen the concept", I must first assume that my definition of "property" is the only definition possible, thereby every denial of my definition, must by my definition, use my definition in order to refute my definition (begging-the-question/circular-reasoning and false dilemma). This is perhaps why "stolen concept" is an alleged fallacy that has been introduced by the objectivists but that it has not gained traction outside of that community as an identified fallacy.

I invite your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment