3

Capaldi PhD Columbia, Smit PhD Catholic Univ. of Leuven. The Art of Deception (2007). p. 259.

Exercise 1

Identify the fallacy, rhetorical technique, and potential difficulties in play with each of the following statements. We provide at least one answer for each after the exercises. Keep in mind that more than one answer may sometimes be possible.

p. 259

  1. IQ tests are not reliable. They measure not intelligence but only the ability to comprehend and manipulate symbols. Besides, no one knows what intelligence really is.

p. 261: Answers to Exercise 1.

  1. Equivocation, inconsistency.

I agree on 'inconsistency', because if "no one knows what intelligence really is`, then how can one argue that "IQ [Intelligence Quotient] tests are not reliable"?

But where's the Equivocation? p. 87 defines it:

  Second, there is the matter of equivocation. A specific term is said to be equivocal when it has more than one meaning.

  • But IQ tests also work with pictures. And, even more, ability to learn is correlated with ability to learn symbols. Exactly ability to learn is considered to be intelligence. – rus9384 Aug 7 '18 at 19:47
  • They reliably measure what they measure, whether or not that is exactly what any given individual means by intelligence especially if he claims there is no real definition. The argument relies upon changing the definition of intelligence. – user9166 Aug 7 '18 at 20:24
2

Weird question.

IQ tests are not reliable. They measure not intelligence but only the ability to comprehend and manipulate sym-bols. Besides, no one knows what intelligence really is.

I'm not sure it's inconsistent, even, not for the reason you give. We can quite easily say that this cardboard box with a tv antenna glued to it does not reliably detect any higgs boson like particles in the area, independent of whether we know what those particles are.

Neither can I see an equivocation there, unless the author is suggesting that the alleged lack of "reliability" is of the measure (we get the same iq score each time) or our interpretation of the measure (it's all there is to intelligence).

The philosopher is I think playing silly games, and asking the reader to construct a straw man of the example, to please him, so to speak.

  • Would you have any references supporting your position, that is, others who believe something similar. This would strengthen your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. – Frank Hubeny Aug 7 '18 at 20:10
  • Exactly my sentiments when I read the question. I say fallacy fallacy! – Bram28 Aug 8 '18 at 0:43
2

The equivocation if there is one is in the term 'intelligence'. If IQ tests - intelligence (sense 1) - do not measure intelligence (sense 2) then 'intelligence' does not have the same meaning or sense throughout : its meaning is equivocal between (1) and (2).

  • Thanks. Did you spot any "inconsistency"? – Edge Aug 14 '18 at 5:55
1

Once again the question seems nonsensical to me.

The crux of the quoted argument is that its conclusion has nothing to do with its premises, really nothing at all. It is as nonsensical as the argument: "The light is too bright. Ergo, my dog has fleas."

This is because the conclusion denies reliability, and "reliability" is a term of art in the world of psychological testing. In this sense, a bathroom scale is a reliable IQ testing device. Reliability does not imply valid results.

Okay, let's assume that validity is what the conclusion was supposed to be about, something like "IQ tests are not valid, they do not measure real intelligence."

If we assume that this is the intended conclusion, then the argument is valid, so that it is moot so search for "the fallacy".


Proof: An argument is valid iff it is contradictory to say that its premises are true, and the conclusion is false. The argument can be paraphrased as:

(P1): IQ tests measure not intelligence but only the ability to comprehend and manipulate symbols.

(P2): No one knows what intelligence really is.

(C): IQ tests are not valid, they do not measure real intelligence.


P1 & ¬C yields: "IQ tests measure not intelligence [...] AND IQ tests do measure real intelligence."

This is a logical contradiction.


P2 & ¬C yields: "No one knows what intelligence really is [...] AND IQ tests are valid, they do measure real intelligence."

This is a pragmatic contradiction (inasmuch as we would be required to know what intelligence really is, in order to confirm that IQ tests do measure real intelligence).


In both cases we are contradicting ourselves when asserting that the premise is true while the conclusion is false. Ergo, the argument is valid, and the question "where is the fallacy?" is moot.

0

The statement being considered is:

IQ tests are not reliable. They measure not intelligence but only the ability to comprehend and manipulate symbols. Besides, no one knows what intelligence really is.

The question is:

But where's the Equivocation?

The equivocation is in the word "intelligence". It can be viewed in the following ways:

  1. Intelligence is not something an IQ test measures.
  2. Intelligence is not well known.
  3. Intelligence is the ability to comprehend.
  4. Intelligence is the ability to manipulate symbols.

There is also an inconsistency between (1) and (2) as the OP mentions:

I agree on 'inconsistency', because if "no one knows what intelligence really is`, then how can one argue that "IQ [Intelligence Quotient] tests are not reliable"?


Reference

Capaldi, N., Smit, M. (2007). The art of deception: an introduction to critical thinking. Prometheus Books.

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