Sydney Morning Herald op-eds translated into formal logic

The first in an occasional series. Now I don’t really know my syllogisms from my enthymemes, so further translation may be required. Sydney Morning Herald op-eds do not necessarily lend themselves to a logical treatment, and I have taken the liberty of supplying some unstated but necessary propositions. In other cases, I have unable to discern the missing propositions and have accordingly left them out. Unfortunately, this means not all premises lead to conclusions and not all conclusions derive from premises.

Elizabeth Farrelly, 19 October, 2009: Wake up, Greens, and savour the organic pork belly

1. Books about organic cooking ought to be literary and aesthetic delights, and contain jokes.

2. A book I bought about organic cooking turned out to be nether literarily nor aesthetically delightful, nor did it contain jokes.

3. The nature of books about organic cooking reflects the green agenda.

Therefore: 4. The green agenda is flawed by its lack of literary and aesthetic delight, particularly in regard to jokes.

5. The green agenda is naturally conservative.

6. The voters of the Higgins electorate are naturally conservative.

7. The Green Party is radical.

8. At the upcoming Higgins by-election, the winner will be the Party whose character reflects the views of the voters of the Higgins electorate.

9. The Green Party should attempt to win the upcoming Higgins by-election and future elections of its type.

Therefore: 10. The Green Party should stop being radical and become naturally conservative.

11. A clear sign of the Green Party becoming naturally conservative would be the appearance of a recipe for organic pork belly in future books about organic cooking.

Published in: on 20 November, 2009 at 10:37 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really like the idea here, although, both based on this post and based on what I know about you personally, I doubt your grasp of formal logic. Indeed, the analysis of newspaper articles etc. is paradigmatic of informal logic.

    Anyway, apart from this concern about the use of the term ‘formal’ here – which I tend to associate with symbolisation of logic, I think there’s some roughness to this, as you yourself acknowledge. I’m not sure I can demonstrate this roughness short of completely redoing the analysis myself, which frankly I’m not willing to do right now.

    What does come out loud and clear from what you’ve done, and why I like it so very much, is that Elizabeth Farrelly is basically an overpaid fuckwit. I have a friend who is enamoured of her prose but I’ve never understood this.

    The first part of the argument is clearly all over the place, but the most blatantly false premise is 3. in your enumeration, not to mention the non-existence of a premise that allows one to judge political agendas by the standards of cookbooks. There’s also a suppressed and clearly fallacious premise (I take it you’re enumerating only the points actually made, not the array of premises assumed) here that one can judge the genre organic cookbooks from one exemplar.

    The second argument she produces (5–10, and also 11) is also stupid, based on a clear conflation of being green and being Green, and the common misunderstanding that the only purpose of the Australian Greens is to be Australian greens. This is unfortunate, but pervasive, and I suspect is not going to stop. It actually works in the Greens’ favour because green politics is more popular than Green politics.

  2. Haha, yes, I thought as soon as I posted that formal logic might mean symbolic logic.

    Yeah Farrelly often annoys me a lot too. Of course the SMH op-ed page, like op-ed pages everywhere, is utterly woeful. Farrelly especially annoys me, even though she’s not a trollumnist like Devine, Sheehan or Henderson. Actually she annoys me probably because she’s not one of them, because I think she is meant to represent the left and/or intellectualism on that page. Ross Gittins also pisses me off for similar reasons. I wouldn’t even bother responding to the trollumnists of course.

  3. I put together the bare bones of a blog that would exist only to criticise the many inaccuracies and faults of the SMH and Age, putatively titled Fairfax Watch, but of course I have already more blogging responsibilities than I can handle.

    Still, I think it would be good if someone were to take that up – it could put pressure on Fairfax to maintain (or, at this point, restore) some semblance of quality.

  4. Good idea… alas I am pretty busy myself too. Also i don’t really read much in the SMH anymore.


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