Re: "I disagree" vs "That's intellectually ba
But it's also easy to observe on boards that for many, there is an attraction in saying, "your argument is intellectually bankrupt", rather than "I disagree", that has little to do with such scrupulous distinguishing. For a lot of people, adopting such terms is an easy way to sound more 'expensive' and thus more intimidating when dismissing another's argument.
This is a good point. I'd call this a rhetorical use of the term and many do it quite often. In moments given to hyperbole I'm sure I have as well.
If I had a dime for every time a logical fallacy is alleged in the other person's argument for purely rhetorical reasons....
Also, more significantly perhaps, it is used as a way to make one's own position less vulnerable by attempting to pull the self out of the argument. As in: it is not merely my personal opinion I'm expressing, I'm expressing an objective fact about yours.
Yep, one more reason it can be attractive for rhetorical use.
"It's not that I think
you are wrong. It's just that you are
In your examples, you seem to defend the use of the label "intellectually bankrupt" in the second instance on the basis that the second argument is clearly unreasonable - objectively unreasonable, factually unreasonable, whatever. But in many other cases in which this kind of terms are used, whether something is "unreasonable" or not in itself constitutes just a personal opinion.
Here you touch on something that is not considered much when it comes to logic.
Logic infalliable but nobody is capable of such logic.
Logic in a reduced dataset (like a riddle) is easy but in life all arguments are reductions of the dataset. None of us will ever be able to take every factor into consideration when composing an argument.
So unless we are talking about a riddles or situations in which the logic has been perfectly reduced there is always a subjective element to the inclusion/exclusion of factors. There is also a subjective element in the evaluation of the logic because said evaluation also can't possibly consider all factors without reduction as well.
I can think of many situations in which a person's disagreement with an argument is so strong that (s)he perceives it to be inherently unreasonable - and thus would allow him/herself to use the "intellectually bankrupt" denominator - not seeing that his/her perception of the inherent unreasonability of the other's argument is more of an indicator of how strongly (s)he holds his/her own position on the subject than of whether the argument is indeed "reasonable" or not.
Yep, an example would be if someone said:
"Racism is a good thing."
Persons with a strong opposition to racism might consider that wholly unreasonable but as it stands it's not an argument at all. It's intellectually bankrupt because of the lack of substantiation but not because said substantiation is intellectually bankrupt.
This is another big element of logic in argument that people neglect.
You can have a perfectly logical explanation for something but unless you give it your argument is flawed.
So a statement can still be intellectually bankrupt without the very position being intellectually bankrupt.
In this case I think it preferrable to elicit the substantiation but if the person refuses to do so they are in fact constructing an intellectually bankrupt argument or
no argument at all.
And that brings another layer of complextity. Some people are simply opining and do not care about intellectual rigor at all.
"I think J-lo's butt is perfect." is not really an attempt to construct an intellectually honest argument. It's just vociferation of an opinion.
I consider all opinion to be intellectually bankrupt. This should give insight into the weight with which I use this term. I use it simply as a term meaning that it is a flawed argument.
At times people don't have the intention of contructing an argument at all. In this case I think there are two things to consider.
1) The appelation is true.
2) The appelation will almost certainly be taken the wrong way.
So now there's the decision about using somethign more palatable or something more accurate.
"I like J-lo's ass" is devoid of any intellect as a statement. The reasons behind it might be intellectually sound but the statement is not.
"That is an intellectually bankrupt argument" suggests fact. "I disagree" conveys opinion. But what is fact and what is opinion often is a question of opinion. (Well, you mention already how it is a subjective descriptor). You see that in many cases, someone will call an argument "intellectually bankrupt" because (s)he feels it is inherently unreasonable - while to others, that estimation itself is just a reflection of mere, contestable opinion - and thus expresses mere disagreement.
Good point, but people should never alledge fallacy merely because of a disgreement with the conclusions.
I might be on the wrong foot altogether here because in the example you give, I dont see what "intellectually bankrupt" means beyond "unreasonable" (in the core meaning of the word - contradictory to reason). So ignorance has me also unable to see why one would say "intellectually bankrupt" instead of just "unreasonable".
I bet a lot of people aren't getting the difference between fallacy in argument and the opinion that the argument is unreasonable.
Let's take two common fallacies:
1) Generalization - generalization is not always a fallacy (e.g. all humans were born in the universe). So to claim this fallacy one has to illustrate why it is fallacious. This is most likely goinf to have subjective judgement calls unless there is a clear error in teh substantiation that does not involve subjectivity (or at leats not a signigicant degree of subjectivity).
2) Slippery slope - This is a fallacy only of it's not substantiated. Otherwise it's a matter of subjective judgement. In the substantiation there can be other fallacies.
So a position can be intellectually sound but the presentation of it in the form of arguments must follow some protocols.
For example, let's picture a valid slippery slope. If one uses this slippery slope in an argument without substantiation it is fallaciouslly presented.
Because a slippery slope can be so easily constructed with fallacy any slippery slope argument that does not attempt to substantiate itself is fallacious. It is an intellectually bankrupt argument.
An intellectually sound position can be expressed in an intellectually bankrupt way.
Take for example the slippery slope again.
"A leads to B".
This is a fallacious and intellectually bankrupt argument. It does not substantiate the slippery slope.
"A leads to B because of C"
This has sustantiation and now the substantiation can be evaluated. The slippery slope is no longer fallacious but there is a possibility that argument "C" contains fallacy.
Let's say argument "C" is a post hoc ergo propter hoc
So now the position is being argued like this:
"A leads to B because of case C, in which B occurred after A."
Now the substantiation is a post hoc ergo propter hoc
The reason it is this fallacy is because the causative link
was not established. Subsequence is not a causative link
in argument even if there is a causative link
So to alledge a causative link
(i.e. a slippery slope
) is a fallacy.
You can have a perfectly reasonable position but you must construct an argument without fallacy. Alledging a slippery slope may well be perfectly reasonable but also an intellectually bankrup fallacy.
"Having sex can lead to having babies."
This is a true statement, but the statment is intellectually bankrupt without the common knowledge that sex does in fact produce babies.
So let's say someone challenges the argument as a fallacious slippery slope
. The argument is, indeed, a fallacy.
Of course the person challenging the argument is ignorant of pretty basic knowledge of procreation. So when the causative link
is illustrated the argument will no longer be intellectually bankrupt and the challenger will likely feel stupid for challenging a position due to their own ignorance of the unstated but assumed substantiation.
But the argument's assumption of the known subject is, indeed, a fallacy. This can be rectified upon request. It's an understanable fallacy because one has limitations of time and energy. But it must be considered a falalcy because the unstated substantiation can have fallacy.
Since it's easy to constryct a slippery slope it must contain substantiation or be a fallacious argument. If the position can't provide such an argument the position itself is based on fallacy.
Let's use an example of a fallacy in argument that does not have substantiation.
"Sex leads to dancing."
This is a fallacious slippery slope with no substantiation.
"Sex leads to dancing because dancing occured after sex."
Now the slippery slope is substantiated. But it's substantiated with a post hoc ergo propter hoc
What I'm getting at is that debate is as old as the hills. There are certain arguments and lines of reasoning that can be fallaciously used to justify any conclusion.
Intellectual rigor demands that the presentation of the position in the form of an argument not contain said fallacies.
You can have a perfectly valid position but be using fallacious reasoning and arguments.
"Sex leads to babies because babies come after sex."
This is a fallacious argument that happens to lead to a correct conclusion.
Intellectual rigor is not about being right so much as it is about using sound reasoning and presenting the arguments without fallacy.
nimh, you make a good point because in this there's an assumed axiom.
The axiom is that there are certain lines of reasoning and arguments that sound good rhetorically but that do not have intellectual and scientific value.
Now there are good reasons to say that but eventually we'll arrive at subjectivity because certainty does not exist.
So yeah, on some level intellectual honesty itself is subjective. If only that everything (including your existence as a human) is subjective on some level.
But in practical terms I contend that intellectual rigor in debate and discussion is not just about subjective opinion.
It's about a protocol that makes the exchanges scientifically meaningful.
To ignore burden of proof and to rely entirely on rhetoric loaded with fallacy does not mean the position is intellectually bankrupt but a strong case can be made that it is intellectually bankrupt because it does not allow for intellectually sound examination.
"I'm right and you are wrong." is a fallacy. It's a "sez me".
It does not allow the other person to examine the substantiation and reply.
When substantiation is given an attempt at intellectual honesty is made.
This can contain fallacious reasoning.
It's like a doctor saying that you need to amputate your leg for no reason other than the fact that he says so.
That is intellectually dishonest and forces you to rely on him being infalliable or to challenge his intellectual dishonesty.
So he says that you need to amputate your leg because the hospital director says so. This "says him" is a fallacious appeal to authority
So ultimately the substantiation must be given without fallacy.
"We need to amputate your leg because we desperately need to meet our leg amputation quota for the month."
Now we arrive at an argument without logical fallacy within this isolation.
At this point the patient can have a subjective disagreement with the position.
"I don't give a flying f... about your quota. I'm leaving."
Here we arrived at the disagreement. Whether or not the amputation for quota is reasonable is a subjective disagreement.
To declare that the evaluation of the previously presented arguments as fallacy is incorrect means to declare the standard for intellectual rigor incorrect.
This is of course a possibility and you can challenge the axiom.
So it would go like this.
"That argument is a fallacy."
"Fallacy is not important."
So challenging the standards for intellectual rigor itself is tantamount to a declaration of intellectual bankrupcy.
An alternative is to challenge the subjective elements of the accessment of fallacy itself.
"That's a fallacious appeal to authority
"No it's not. He's the only witness and is the only authority at all on the event."
"You are right, that is not a fallacious appeal to authority but it is
a reliance on a dangeriously limited dataset (one person)."
And here we arrive at a subjective disagreement.
What I'm getting at is that to arrive at the axioms and to exchange ideas there is a protocol that helps each party examine each other's position and arguments. It allows you to arrive at the subjective disagreements and discover where they are.
Without following the protocol there is intellectual dishonesty. It's an attempt to conceal the basis of the position and disallow exploration for possible fallacy or dissgreement.
But if I'm right, then a reasonable (heh
compromise, that does allow for everyone's inherently imperfect knowledge, would be to say, "I disagree with you, because I think your argument is intellectually bankrupt". It would save a lot of the ensuing flak that tends to distract from the topic at hand, too.
Another good point. The "it is" vs "I think it is" question.
Let me ask you this. Do you say "I think that one plus one equals two"?
Remember that all things are subjective on some level (this is an intentional paradox in case you'd like to explore it).
Some fallacies are, as you said, prone to subjectivity. But since certainty is impossible to give everything the "I think" disclaimer becomes meaningless.
one plus one equals two" makes "I think
your hair was better last time" less meaningful (insofar as the delienation of subjectivity is concerned).
At some point the use of the "I think" disclaimer would become useless in delienating degree of subjectivity.
Does that make sense? I didn't read any of the other responses yet.
Makes a lot of sense. There is always going to be subjectivity. But do you agree that certain protocols are needed for intellectual rigor to allow for intellectual exploration?
For example, the need for burden of proof can be disputed. But would you?
I can understand and accept the challenging of the evaluation of who holds what buden but if someone is challenging the need for such safeguards in intellectuall rigor altogether I have no problem with considering that to be intellectual dishonesty.
It's (or I think it is if you prefer) to undermine the foundations of reason and intellectual exchange.
When I talk of intellectual dishonesty it's less about being right than about presenting a position without intellectual dishonesty.
What constitutes intellectual dishonesty is, indeed, subjective on some level but at that level intellectual exchange is already meaningless for the purposes I would use it for.