Friday, April 27, 2012

Peter Slipper's defence is a logical fallacy

The parliamentary speaker, Mr Slipper has stood aside. He's been accused of two things. Criminal misuse of an employer's financial tool (Cabcharges) and a civil transgression of sexual harassment.

I could talk about this for ages; onus of proof, morality versus legality, "form" versus trust. But I won't, time is a little short.

But I have a problem with Peter Slipper's defence. Because it seems that a student who's done a first year philosophy elective could see that it's weak.

Peter Slipper was accused of flicking blank Cabcharge (credit slips) to a driver. The imputation is that the driver flicks Mr Slipper a few hundred dollars in exchange, Mr Slipper has cash for the night and the driver can make up the money (plus a fee) at some other time. This is all alleged and I have no idea if it's likely to be true or not.

Mr Slipper has responded by releasing a whole set of Cabcharge dockets that he used in what appears to be an appropriate manner.

Isn't this what they call a non sequitur? That it doesn't matter how many correct uses there were of the Cabcharge dockets the argument is that there were inappropriate uses.

It's the problem of induction. If we say "all swans are white" then no amount of "white swan sightings" can confirm that contention. But a black swan sighting will disconfirm it.

Similarly the onus of proof is on the accusers in the Slipper case. But the political dimension has made it messy.

And don't start me on the civil claim because I think - according to law - this carries a "reverse onus of proof".

If I'm wrong with any of this, please correct me quickly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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