Re: virus: Logical beliefs

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 3 Jun 1997 11:39:00 +0100

David McF wrote:
>At 10:01 AM 02/06/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
>>There is a world of difference between believing in "the principles of
>>logic or reason", and viewing #2 as a good definition of rationality.
>>In fact, I think missing that difference is an example of
>>(your defn).
>I do see the difference however as far as I can tell the definition
>you quoted above is not only in the dictionary (definition #2), it is
>common usage by philosophers, scientists, economists and many
reasonable and
>sane people (as opposed philosophers :)...

OK, I'll admit that to say #2 and #3 are too vague for
careful use was wrong. I should have given the matter
more thought before putting fingers to keyboard.

However, I stick firmly by my view that you use "rational"
in a non-standard and therefore confusing way. The most
obvious example of this, for me, is when you say that most
instinctive action is rational. When people talk about the
rationality or otherwise of action, what they almost always
mean is defn #1: using reason or logic in thinking out a
problem. Which is the exact opposite of acting

So my revised complaint is that you use definitions that
are certainly correct in some situations, in ways that make
them, by the standard of conventional usage, incorrect.
In addition, I suspect, though I admit I do not have an
example to prove it, that you equivocate: you slide from
one of the meanings of the word to another during the
course of an argument. If you really want to deny that,
though, I will probably have to withdraw the charge rather
than look for an example, because I can't spare the time
for such stuff now. :-(