Saturday, December 17, 2016

Is 'No' the Answer to this Question?

              In other words:

Is “No, it is not” a correct answer to this question?

              If it is a correct answer, if
              “it is not” is a correct description,
              then it is not a correct answer,
              whereas by the meaning of “not”
              it cannot be correct and not correct.

              Does it follow that it is not correct?
              That is also what “not” means,
              and yet if it is not a correct answer,
              then “it is not” would be a correct description,
              “it is not” would be correct, as well as incorrect!

              We seem to be stuck!
It certainly cannot be that there is no correct answer,
as then “it is not” would, in particular, not be correct,
so that “it is not" would be a correct description,
making it also correct, and hence contradictory.

Nor can this be a simple case of
there being no fact of the matter,
as may well be the case with this:
“Is ‘yes’ the answer to this question?”
Both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are good answers to that.

It could be that logic is not what we think it is,
because it is unlikely that even highly evolved apes
are perfectly logical. But,
if our logic is simply false, then appeals to logic
not only would, they should fall on deaf ears.
So, is everything political?

Fortunately answers to questions
can be as correct as not, and
to see that they can be,
consider this one:
              Is “It is an apple”
              a correct answer
              to the question
              “What is A?”?
In that question A is originally an apple,
but has its molecules replaced, one by one,
with molecules of beetroot.

Originally “It is an apple” is a correct answer,
              but eventually it is not.
If that answer must be either correct or else not,
then an apple can be turned into something else
(presumably a mixture of apple and beetroot)
by replacing just one of its original molecules
       with one more molecule of beetroot,
             which certainly seems absurd.
It is plausible that A is, at such a stage,
no less an apple than it is apple/beetroot mix;
that it is, at such stages, about as much an apple as not,
with “It is an apple” being as correct as not at some such stage.

              If “No, it is not” is as correct as not,
              as an answer to our original question,
              then its paradoxical context says only
              that it should also be as incorrect as not,
              which is exactly the same, so: no problem.
And so, having ruled out all the other possible answers
(except the one that says not to bother being logical)
it follows that the answer to our question is:

              “No, it is not” is as correct as not. 

(That does not mean that “No, it is not” is not correct,
nor that it is not incorrect. We have already ruled out
those possibilities. So note that it is not so much that
“No, it is not” is neither correct nor incorrect as that
it is only as correct as not, only as incorrect as not.)

For more on such see:
Peculiarity of the Liar
and Is "Pretty" Pretty?