Comment: Is it possible to take a logical conclusion too far?

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In post: On Equality

Michael Nystrom's picture

Is it possible to take a logical conclusion too far?

The short story Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut does that for purposes of illustration. It is available in Vonnegut's collection of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House. It is also available free to read online:

http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

The story takes a logical conclusion too far, but beginning with a false premise: That all men should be equal, not just before the law, but in all aspects. It is a good, quick read. I remember reading it in high school, and your post reminded me of it. Someone even made a short movie about it, available on YouTube:


http://youtu.be/FE_nr2t6fKQ

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I've been wondering about false premises recently. You're well aware that if you start with a false premise, you can end up anywhere, proving anything - including things that aren't necessarily so.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
- Alan Watts