Posts Tagged ‘Zero Effect’

Determining translation

January 27, 2008

It is customary, in introductory logic courses, to treat logic as some sort of language in which we can express, more clearly, statements of ordinary language. Accordingly, students will be asked to translate ordinary language into logic and vice versa, which only becomes interesting in the context of quantifier ambiguities. Philosophers, always in need for yet more examples to give as exercises to inquisitive students, need look no further than the movie “Zero Effect”. Mid-way through the movie you will come across a particularly puzzling passage (to use no earlier than the mid-term, but preferably in the final):

“When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Of all things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.”

Sample solutions welcome! Extra points: translate the statements in such a way, as to make the argument valid. Avoid free variables.