Do you think that the following argument is a good one : X says that a certain metaphysical view is correct. X says that if this view M is correct, it should produce certain effects in the psychology of people that realize it. (Make them super-smart, or super-kind for example). It is observed that X has this type of psychology. Thus the metaphysical view M is true.

I am part of a minority of philosophers who believe that some variant on the argument you proposed can be incorporated into a strong inductive argument –in fact I’m currently at work on just such a project, named “Pragmatic Metaphysics”. However, the argument as so stated is an example of the formal fallacy “affirming the consequent”.

P1. If Metaphysical Claim then I am Super Kind
P2. I am Super Kind
C. Therefore Metaphysical Claim

One problem is that you haven’t explained why we believe P1 is true, But this argument fails even if P1 is true because we have never established “If Super Kind then Metaphysical Claim”, and the relationship is not reversible.

The danger with affirming the consequent is this: If you start with a true and known statement “B”, such as “2 + 2 = 4”, then every conditional of the form “If A then B” will automatically be true, regardless of the nature of “A”. Thus, “If it is sunny tomorrow, then 2 + 2 will equal 4.” “If it is not sunny tomorrow, then 2 + 2 will equal 4.” “If the Yankees win the World Series then 2 + 2 will equal 4.” “If the devil beats his wife, then 2 + 2 will equal 4.”

Because of this, the type of argument you outlined can never be formally sound. However, it is possible to make a similar strong inductive argument, given the following conditions:

  • “A” (i.e. Metaphysical Claim) must be a reasonable explanation for many observable things, not just “B” (Super Kind). So “If A then B, C, D, E, & F”, where B through F are all true.
  • “A” must not have further implications that are false. So it must not be the case that “If A then G” where G is false.
  • “A” must have predictive value. So “If A then H tomorrow,” where the prediction comes before H is observed, but where H confirms the prediction.
  • “A” must not have stronger rivals. There must not be an A´ or an A´´ that explains the same data in a simpler and better fashion.

Even given all this, we do not prove “A,” we can only say that there is reason to believe A, or that A offers good explanatory value. For instance, if we say it is a natural law all planets move in ellipses, there is as sense in which this is a metaphysical claim (since we can observe the planets but not the law in itself). We accept it as true because it has many true implications, no important false implications, excellent predictive value, and no stronger rivals.

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  1. I would take a standard textbook on math, where all the propositions are correct. Write down 99 correct mathematical statements. And then add “Zeus exists”, and compile a text. Then I would argue, that if we have a box, from which we sample randomly 99 balls and they are have the property of being black, we can think with good reason that the next one will be black. And therefore, since 99 of the math propositions in the texts are have the property of being correct, there is good reason to think that “Zeus exists” is also correct. It seems wrong somewhere. But where?
  2. Just recently saw the following argument in a logic book: all lions are herbivores all zebras are lions ————– therefore all zebras are herbivores this seems to be logically valid syllogism, but it is disturbing.
  3. Inductive arguments establish objective facts, so how can they be considered subjective?
  4. A circular argument is technically a valid argument. For every case in which the premises are true, the conclusion will be true. So what makes it a bad one?
  5. 1) The claim “There is extraterrestrial life in the universe, because my father said so” is an example of an appeal to authority. But it can be viewed as an enthymeme, where the hidden assumption is that “my father is always right”. In such a case, there is no logical problem with the argument. Do you agree? 2) Do you think that to say that : “Person A is biased , therefore\what he says is wrong” is fallacious? It can be interpreted as “person A is biased, therefore his information cannot be trusted. Therefore what he says is wrong”. 3) Are errors of logic errors of psychology as well? Or perhaps, only errors of psychology? Appeal to authority besides being a logical fallacy, has a whole psychology and sociology besides it.
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