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I am self -studying logic from the book A concise Intoduction to logic 12th edition.

Here is an argument , I found it difficult to find what is the conclusion and how premises are supporting the conclusion in th following argument? Can someone explain this argument?

An ant releases a chemical when it dies, and its fellows then carry it away to the compost heap. Apparently the communication is highly effective; a healthy ant painted with the death chemical will be dragged to the funeral heap again and again.

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  • The purported conclusion is "Apparently the communication is highly effective". It is supported by the two descriptive statements and by the "experiment" with the living ant painted with the death chemical. Nov 21, 2021 at 16:48
  • Can you explain it like why the communication of ants came into the context?
    – user56799
    Nov 21, 2021 at 16:51

2 Answers 2

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I find it difficult to create a simple argument in this case, because there seems to be left implicit that the release of a death-chemical actually serves as a signal to the other ants. However, perhaps it could be modeled this way:

If an ant dies and releases a death-chemical, its fellows drag it away to the compost heap. If an ant does not die and releases a death-chemical, its fellows drag it away to the compost heap. Therefore, if an ant releases a death-chemical, its fellows drag it away to the compost heap.

This has the logical form below:

If p and q, then r; If p and not-q, then r; Therefore, if p, then r.

My first thought was actually that this is a case of hypothesis testing, like this:

If an ant dies, it releases a death-chemical. After an ant dies and releases its death-chemical, its fellows drag it away to the compost heap. Hypothesis: The cause of its fellows’ dragging it away to the compost heap is the death-chemical’s reaching them and serving as a signal to drag it away: the ant’s death is irrelevant except insofar as it serves as a trigger for the release of the death-chemical. Experiment: Live ants are painted with the death-chemical. Result: If a live ant is painted with the death-chemical, its fellows drag it away to the compost heap. Inference: The hypothesis is supported.

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Welcome to Philosophy SE. I believe your argument can be reconstructed in two different ways.

The first way:

(P1) An ant releases a chemical when it dies, and its fellows then carry it away to the compost heap. (P2) Apparently, the communication is highly effective.

(P3) If a communication is highly effective, then the consequent would be triggered even though the antecedent doesn't get satisfied properly.

(P4) A healthy ant painted with the death chemical is similar to the antecedent (being dead).

(lemma1) Therefore, a healthy ant painted with the death chemical would trigger the consequent.

(C) Therefore, a healthy ant painted with the death chemical will be dragged to the funeral heap again and again

Second, as Mauro ALLEGRANZA pointed out in the comment, the reconstructed argument would be like below, but I am a bit skeptical whether this is a good argument reconstruction.

(P1) When an ant dies, its fellows then carry it away to the compost heap.

(P2) When an ant pretends to die, its fellows then carry it away to the compost heap.

(P3) Faking death/pretending dead is not equivalent of being dead

(P4) This not equivalent action lead to the same reaction.

(C) Therefore, the communication is highly effective. [here communication refers to the ant\s fellows' reaction depending on the ant being/pretending dead]

Here, P3 and P4 are hidden premises.

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