Logical conclusions must be predicated on true premises. If the premises are unexamined, inaccurate, or false, then the logic is empty. This is one reason why using “logic” to argue for or against matters of politics and policy is frequently misguided; the person invoking “logic” is all too often using faulty premises.
Misuse of logic is rampant in all fields, even academic ones. It is often used as a crutch to justify prejudices and as a club to smite those who hold opposing views. There are people who are thoroughly Aristotelian in their thinking, and do, indeed, believe in the profundity of empty logical arguments. Others, such as politicians and evangelists use logic cynically as an instrument for persuasion of those who don’t realize that “There’s a mighty big difference between good, sound reasons, and reasons that sound good.” (Burton Hillis).
Just what is an ‘empty’ argument about the ‘real world’ of our experience?
- One kind is the argument that may have faultless logic but is based on premises that have not, or cannot, be experimentally verified. Another kind is based on premises that are not part of any well-established and accepted scientific theory.
- Some arguments are empty of content because they use words with no clear and unambiguous meaning, or words that cannot be related to anything real (experimentally unverifiable).
- The most seductive empty arguments build upon premises that are so emotionally appealing that we don’t ask for verification, or which have appealing conclusions that blind us to the emptiness of the premises.