Fugu for Logicians

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Abstract

What do you get when you cross a fallacy with a good argument? A fugu, that is, a valid argument that tempts you to reach its conclusion invalidly (named after the dangerous but delicious Japanese puffer fish). You have yielded to the temptation more than you realize. If you are a teacher, you may have served many fugus. They arise systematically through several mechanisms. Fugus are interesting intermediate cases that shed light on the following issues: bare evidentialism, false pleasure, philosophy of education, and the ethics of argument. Normally, a fugu will not yield knowledge from known premises. But if the reasoning is only slightly fallacious, they do yield knowledge. These mild fugus show that we can gain knowledge by invalid reasoning. This is a conservative resource for historians. They want to credit discoveries to Euclid rather than those who made minor corrections to his proofs, such as David Hilbert. We also benefit from this practice of grandfathering in old standards of knowledge attribution. For we can compete spiritedly for priority. We do not need to worry that credit will instead go to future scholars who will make the minor amendments needed to raise present proofs to a future standard of demonstration.

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