Talk:Exception that proves the rule
Actually, I disagree with this somewhat. The word "prove" here (which does indeed come from Latin) is used in its Old English meaning of "test". So we were originally talking about "The exception which tests the rule." The idea being that the rule needed to be challenged by, and be able to explain, exceptions to it.--BobNot Jim 18:14, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
- Well, three years later and I was definitely wrong when I wrote that. Hearing someone use the same phrase in Spanish made me rethink my position. I've added substantiation to the Latin interpretation.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 10:08, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
- OK, make the necessary changes. WéáśéĺóíďMethinks it is a Weasel 19:27, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
- That's how I remember it as. I've added a footnote to that effect as I didn't feel the article needed changing much, the phrase is often used in the "to prove" sense that we'd understand it, rather than the original "to test" meaning. pathetic 19:33, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
- Hmmm, doesn't the Latin "probat" also allow both meanings, just like the English "prove", which is obviously derived from it? I don't know enough Latin to tell.188.8.131.52 (talk) 21:53, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
I have just cut the final section "A legitimate case for exceptions establishing rules" as it seems barley comprehensible and adds nothing. For easy reference I have put it in italics below:
Although it happens on pretty thin ice, sometimes people use exceptions fallaciously to show that a rule does not exist. A typical retort to a generalization starts by disagreeing that it is in fact a rule, followed by citing a compelling example that takes exception to the rule. If the example is in fact exceptional in the sense of extraordinary or rare, but its familiarity or wide acceptance or emotionally striking nature insinuates it as one of numerous examples, it can sway opinions quite easily (as politicians are well aware). Obviously neither viewpoint, for or against the supposed rule, can be reasonably demonstrated without some degree of quantification. An observation that holds 90-100% of the time could justifiably be construed to be a rule, while one that holds less than 10% of the time could not. When relatively rare exceptions get fallaciously cited as if they were commonplace, "the exception proves the rule" can legitimately mean that the attempt to refute the rule is fallacious, since it shows that the contested rule was significant enough to warrant a refutation and that the strongest refutation offered was in fact a weak or fallacious one. By a kind of "is that all you've got?" rationale, choosing to put a weak foot forward serves to support the case for the stated rule as being a strong one. Or in other words harping on very few exceptions can show that in the vast majority of cases, the rule is true.
- I do think it definitely adds something which now is not in the article, but maybe it could be made more easy to understand. It is about cases, where "rule" does not mean a rule in the logical sense (which does not permit exceptions), but in the sense of something being commonplace, usual, general.
For example, generally people are right-handed. Pointing out that some people are left-handed, or having to point it out, would strengthen that rule as opposed to the fictional rival theory that right-handed and left-handed people were more or less distributed 50:50. If left-handedness really was that common, it would not have been needed to be pointed out that some people are left-handed.... Hmmm, I notice this is indeed difficult to explain, so I don't think my explanation is much better. Hopefully someone more talented in expressing this will come along...184.108.40.206 (talk) 21:55, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Your examples contrast the two cases by invoking only one.
"In some cases, either of these definitions of "prove" create a working sentence, which somewhat explains the change in definition. For example I can say that porn found on a priest's hard drive "proves" that he is a paedophile, and it works for either definition; it either (a) provides hard evidence of paedophilia, thus proving the accusation to be true in the modern sense of the word, or (b) provides a legitimate test of whether or not the priest is a paedophile — if the subjects of the porn are under age, he is defined as a paedophile. However, the aphorism "the exception that proves the rule" was not treated properly by the shift in definition, and now it looks like a way for idiots to justify their idiocy."
Your article differentiates Rules which are marked by sole exceptions that, when stated explicitly, imply the consistency of the remainder with means which test rules by subjection to trial and error.
The above quotation is remarkably an exception to the rule itself...or an attempt at one, by differentiating A.) Emphasis on proof to mean trial and error, or a "legitimate test" (even though the proposed example isn't. Possession of paraphernalia can be unwitting and unintentional, think drug trafficking dupes or planted evidence.) with B.) Emphasis on proof to mean a mere logical deduction from a statement suggesting a lone reasonable interpretation. "Breakfast served 7PM and after" implies the same day, not today into tomorrow.
But this is wrong. There is no Old English translation (German isn't 'non-Latin', by the way.) Probat means the same thing in pre-modern Latin as it does in classical antiquity in established legal usage. In both exception is the source of confusion anyway, not prove.
"If we have a statement like 'entry is free of charge on Sundays', we can reasonably assume that, as a general rule, entry is charged for. So, from that statement, here's our rule:
You usually have to pay to get in. The exception on Sunday is demonstrating that the rule exists. It isn't testing whether the incorrect rule 'you have to pay' is true or not, and it certainly isn't proving that incorrect rule to be true."