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"I disagree" vs "That's intellectually bankrupt"

 
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2004 10:35 pm
Disagreements aren't they fun!

I took a class with a friend once, where we had to tell each other one thing that bothered each of us, about the other. She said, I often jumped into a conversation with, "No, that's where you're wrong!"
I was stunned Embarrassed and then I began to listen to myself.
I had to hogtie my tongue.... It's become a running joke between my friends and I. Very Happy
Sometimes when you listen to conversations, the stupidity is alarming. Intellectually bankrupt ideas flow like the troughs in Gus's pig sties. It's as if people never read a book, or newspaper, travel, vote ... it's disheartening.
I agree with the your idea of disagreements, but sometimes people are just plain wrong. Twisted Evil
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 01:05 am
I would bristle at my post being called intellectually dishonest but I would listen as to why and try to answer, perhaps foaming for a while, perhaps answering well (unlikely, to my accuser's point of view) or well to myself, or considering anew. Knowing me, I would type that all out. In any case, if not right away, at some point I would stay engaged, whether I post back in appropriate time.

Call my post intellectually bankrupt and you can shinny up a tree, as I do take that as all thought from this poster, me, is bankrupt, bankrupt being a perjorative that seems to jump from being a descriptive of the posted idea to the brain of the poster virtually instantly.

I understand you mean the same thing in both cases, that the posted argument has no intellectual defense, but one way of saying that leaves the person who posted some simple pride and the other doesn't.

Why does it matter? Given that the naysayer about intellectual rigor is correct, more learning occurs when the poster isn't effectively bludgeoned, learning potentially being on both or more than both sides. Should the naysayer not be correct, there is less of a cliff to edge back from, if anybody is left to watch.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 04:45 pm
Re: "I disagree" vs "That's intellectually ba
It is easy to appreciate when someone tries to apply a scrupulous distinction between two such modes of rejecting another person's argument (and the accompanying use of the two different labels, "I disagree" versus "your argument is intellectually bankrupt").

But it's also easy to observe on boards that 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', more intimidating, when dismissing another's argument.

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.

Misuse of expressions aren't much of a reason to do away with the expression themselves, true. (Even if the temptation to say: lookit, can't we just say "I disagree" instead of trying to negate the validity of the other's argument per se, considering the reference to logic this is done with is misused half the time anyway?) But the second part is perhaps more relevant.

In your sports 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.

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.

"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.

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".

But if I'm right, then a reasonable (heh Wink 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.

Does that make sense? I didn't read any of the other responses yet.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 05:28 pm
truth
Craven, to me, a person is "intellectually bankrupt" not just when he is "wrong"; it's when he is not even wrong, when he is consistently incapable of examining others' ideas because of his extreme convictions. It has been said that "conviction" is a form of self-deception. Now everyone can be accused of that to some extent--noone is always or completely right or always or completely wrong, so I suppose guilt in this regard is a matter of degree. I have strong convictions, but when others oppose them I try to try to see what is valid or useful in their point of view. But when they oppose propositions without understanding them, they are not even wrong, and they are guilty of intellectual bad faith, or intellectual bankruptcy. To follow up on your thesis, I can't even disagree with them.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 06:32 pm
Re: "I disagree" vs "That's intellectually ba
nimh wrote:

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....

Quote:
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 wrong."

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
"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.

Quote:
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 fallacy.

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 fallacy.

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.

Watch:

"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 fallacy.

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.

Watch:

"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.

Quote:
But if I'm right, then a reasonable (heh Wink 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.

"I think 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.

Quote:

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.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 06:38 pm
Re: truth
JLNobody wrote:
Craven, to me, a person is "intellectually bankrupt" not just when he is "wrong"; it's when he is not even wrong, when he is consistently incapable of examining others' ideas because of his extreme convictions.


I agree but find it to be a meaningless distinction. Incapability in this regard would mean incapability of speech, reading, cognition or somesuch.

So ultimately it's about the willingness to do so and that becomes much more subjective.

Delienating subjectivity from the rest is, to me, a crucial part of intellectual honesty.

Now while I agree with you in that introspection is important i caustion against overplaying the perception of flexibility as a measure of reasonableness.

I know some people who evaluate the reason of people they argue with based on how much the person compromised their position in a disagreement.

This is only a sound policy is you assume the axiom that you are always partially right.

In other words to assume that the other must compromise their position to some degree to be held to be considering yours is dangerous because it assumes polarity of reason.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 07:14 pm
Interesting looking at how each of us approaches this one differently! Bit of a Rorschach...heehee.
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 07:21 pm
Instinctual drift....
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 07:35 pm
Random remarks while reading the posts here ...

One thing that responses in this thread attracted my attention to is that, whereas I tend to take what I perceive as disagreement in my stride (even, or especially, when the disagreement is positively antipolar), I get easily and very upset about what I perceive to be glaringly fallacious or specious arguments (especially when referring to things I said, of course <grins>). So ... I can see the point about making a fuss about them ;-)

But my interactions also show clearly that what is considered fallacious or specious again can be a case of much contention. One man's intellectual bankruptcy would be another's disagreement, and in that sense I dont think the distinction is as fundamentally unproblematic as you seem to suggest, Craven (but now I might be repeating myself, plus I see that you've also posted more on this already).

I was wondering specifically, re: your example about the argument that homosexuality is an abomination against nature - the Creationist argument - would you consider it intellectually bankrupt, too? There is as much conclusive evidence on evolution as there is about the occurrence of homosexuality in nature .. but doesn't the exchange of pieces of purported evidence itself already suggest reasonable disagreement is possible?

I dunno about that one, myself ... whether arguing creationism can be filed away as mere disagreement or whether it is simply fallacious (or "intellectually bankrupt") ... I think I would put it pretty far towards the latter. But it does make me think that we're talking gradations in a continuum here, rather than neatly distinguishable categories ... which might be a good reason to apply extreme caution when using the term.

JLNobody wrote:
I have strong convictions, but when others oppose them I try to try to see what is valid or useful in their point of view. But when they oppose propositions without understanding them, they are not even wrong, and they are guilty of intellectual bad faith, or intellectual bankruptcy.


That's interesting, but it just stresses the problematicness of the whole thing, to me. Because if you look in the Politics section, you often see people accusing others of "opposing their propositions without understanding them" - without wanting or trying to, even - while those very same others, I'm sure, feel they've "tried to see what was valid or useful" in the suggested points of views.

So yeh, very subjective descriptors, indeed. Perhaps its better in these cases, instead of using labels like "bad faith" or "intellectual bankruptcy", to just say "I think you're opposing my submission without even understanding it" ... ;-)

Ceili wrote:
I took a class with a friend once, where we had to tell each other one thing that bothered each of us, about the other. She said, I often jumped into a conversation with, "No, that's where you're wrong!"
I was stunned Embarrassed and then I began to listen to myself.


Ceili, that's funny. I told my boss something like that once. He had the exasperating habit (in meetings and so on) to follow-up whatever point you had been making by saying, "No - " and add whatever new point he wanted to make.

It was exasperating because he would actually rarely disagree with anything you said - in fact, the next day you would notice that he actually picked up on your point, too, and would make it to others like it was his. It was really just that, right then, he wanted to highlight a different issue, or a different aspect of the same job that had to be handled as well. As in:

Employee: "I think it's really important to send the press release to the national co-ordinators, so they have time to translate it"
Boss: "No - what is really important is for the press page to be up in time on the website, so journalists can find the press release there"

Note that boss wasn't saying it wasn't important to send the release to the co-ordinators - and there'd be enough time to do both, in any case - it was just, he'd been thinking about something else, and he really wanted to get it across to us!

He often got in trouble with that, raising all kinds of instinctive resistance to whatever he wanted to have done - and some of it would be a lot more serious than whatever hard time I might give him about it. Once, I angrily told him that, if he said, "yes - and also, [whatever point he wanted to make]", nothing in what he said would actually change - and he'd spare himself a lot of needless argument. I can't say I personally like my boss a whole lot, but I did notice that he rarely does it anymore ... ;-)

Anyway, that on an aside.

ossobuco wrote:
Why does it matter? Given that the naysayer about intellectual rigor is correct, more learning occurs when the poster isn't effectively bludgeoned, learning potentially being on both or more than both sides. Should the naysayer not be correct, there is less of a cliff to edge back from, if anybody is left to watch.


As usual, wise words by Osso ... <nods>
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 07:53 pm
I didn't realize that 'intellectually bankrupt' is a routine phrase about lack of intellectual rigor. My ears hear it as personally insulting even when the phrase is used to describe the argumentation, and I am learning that in Craven's usage that is offpoint. I'd prefer to hear that I didn't present an argument (true, I usually don't) or that what argument I did present fails, is fallacious.

I understand now that in the world of rigor I have reacted too personally (for someone else - Craven has kindly never straightened me out with the descriptive).

I bet some other people react as I did from the words and take it as "mean", and go from there to up hostility or wander off as if personally swatted. This may be fine from a rigor point of view, but seems to me to trigger emotion needlessly when some other phrase describing the same lack of rigor in argument might not do that.




Hmm, are fails and fallacious related words?
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:21 pm
Seems to me like Craven's real approach to debate is "I calls 'em likes I sees 'em." No problem with that here, makes for good reading. Smile
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:21 pm
truth
I still think of "intellectual bankruptcy" in moral terms, like moral bankrruptcy. It connotes for me more than incapacity or lack of analytical rigor. In the other direction, one can be very capable yet intellectually bankrupt in the sense of irresponsible. Such a persosn may be guilty of rigor mortis, more concerned with technique than with wisdom.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:33 pm
Heehee - to be a little naughty, I see Craven's, (and others who like to use similar language), problem as "The Macbeth Dilemma". (Note - it is an imperfect analogy - and I will say why later - but now, I should be on the way to work, and I am delaying, so I am happy to stir up mischief.)

So this - imperfectly quoted, I am sure - is what Lady Macbeth said of 'er 'ubby, when she was trying to figure out how to get him to be king:

"yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win..."

Now - the analogy is flawed, because rigour in argument and sharp debate is not an unworthy prize - however - I think Craven wants to be able to use the language that suits him in debate, (be king, in this analogy) but without consequence - ie without too many people getting upset (the nearest way, playing false) - he woulds't both highly and holily, as it were - (as I said, an imperfect analogy).

His view is that the terms he likes to use are NOT insulting - and he has good grounds for this view - in a sense, he is in the position of a person who believes a particular rule or law (in this case, what most people in the majority of the cultures represented on this board consider to be rudeness) is unjust. (I keep using Craven here, cos he opened this thread - but there are others who debate in similar ways)

So - what to do? Obey the "unjust law"? Flout it totally?

In a sense, this is a civil disobedience situation - and the "rules" of civil disobedience say that if one chooses not to respect the unjust law, one accepts the consequences, as part of one's campaign to change the law - (ie one does not "whine", to use another favourite Cravenism) but one seeks to educate others about the wrongness of the law, and gain support. Hence threads like this - or is this just the wee-est tad "whiney"? I think not, actually.

Of course, Craven, unlike other similarly...er...robust debaters is a true "Macbeth" in that he is thane of the site - and hence highly visible - a target with big bobbing feathers on his helm, as it were - we kerns and peasants can get away with less opprobrium for similar utterances....

And - some other robust debaters appear to care less, too, about the opprobrium with which they are greeted - that milk of human kindness thing....

So - sensitive Macbeth, or hero of rational progress? There is the subjective part....

So - I hope I have entertained you....
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:35 pm
nimh wrote:

I was wondering specifically, re: your example about the argument that homosexuality is an abomination against nature - the Creationist argument - would you consider it intellectually bankrupt, too?


What Creationist argument? If you give an example I can tell you what I think.

I know of several ways to argue in support of Creation. Some of them are not fallacious. Some, for example, merely try to discredit evolution with no attempt made to prove creation.

Trying to "prove" creation is almost always going to be done with copious amounts of fallacy.

But you are asking about a conclusion. How a conclusion is argued is where the fallacy takes place. Earlier I said that a correct conclusion can be presented in fallacy.

The reasoning is where the fallacy occurs. The reasoning is what should go into the argument.

Quote:
There is as much conclusive evidence on evolution as there is about the occurrence of homosexuality in nature


This is true if you mean the existence of evolution in general if you mean evolution as the way man came into existence it is not true, but either way it misses the point of the use of the naturalistic fallacy.

The point isn't whether or not it is "natural". The point is that assuming that what is "natural" is best is a fallacy.

To say that homosexuality is wrong because it is "unatural" first assumes that what is "unatural" is wrong.

Beyond that there is the question of whether or not homosexuality is "natural" or "unatural".

This is a fallacy whether or not it is natural.

Natural does not equal good. And to argue that something is wrong because it is not natural is a fallacy because it assumes an unsupported axiom that "natural is good".

Arguing that something is "wrong" because it is "unatural" assumes all of the following:

1) That what is "natural" is good.
2) That "unatural" exists. This is almost impossible to argue. Everything being called "unatural" is occuring within nature.
3) That the item being descibed is, indeed, "unatural".

It's a fallacy because of the nested assumptions. None of which are safe axioms and all of which are open to exploration.

To sum it up the naturalistic fallacy is similar to the appeal to tradition.

Both assume they are correct through an assumed axiom that they also assume is correct.

Quote:
.. but doesn't the exchange of pieces of purported evidence itself already suggest reasonable disagreement is possible?


I'm not sure what you mean. What meaning are you using for "reasonable"?

For example, there is "intellectually sound" and "palatable in personality".

Some would call any mild mannered disagreement "reasonable" and any heated disagreement "unreasonable".

That is a common usage that is very different from the true meaning of reason.

Quote:
I dunno about that one, myself ... whether arguing creationism can be filed away as mere disagreement or whether it is simply fallacious (or "intellectually bankrupt"), that is ... I think I would put it pretty far towards the latter ... but it does make me think that we're talking gradations in a continuum here, rather than neatly distinguishable categories ... which might be a good reason to apply extreme caution when using the term.


In here you bring up an important factor which is degrees of "reasonableness".

But intellectual dishonesty isn't about what is and is not reasonable so much as it is about presenting the reasoning without fallacy.

Someone can present a perfectly reasonable conclusion but use substantiation riddled with fallacy.

Someone can argue an unreasonable conclusion without using fallacy (this depends on the ability of the opponent to bring teh argument to the subjective disagreement or to bring teh argument to the fallacy).

I must not be expressing myself well here because only a few people are understanding the point I was going for.

It's not about being right vs being wrong. It's not about being reasonable or not.

It's about the need to audit the protocol.

The assumed goal is to extracate the core of the disagreement. Sometimes it's subjective disagreement, sometimes it's an axiom.

Sometimes the axiom is a fallacy. Sometimes it's simply something about which there is subjective disagreement.

But without intellectual honesty this process is little more than a fight.

Without this protocol the axiom may as well be "because I'm right".

Watch the difference bwteen the two:

"Homosexuality should be discouraged."

"Why?"

"Because it's unatural and is an abomination to god."

Here the argument centers on several assumed axioms. It's ultimately an assumption of being right. Being right about the existence of the god. Being right about the existence of what is "unatural". Being right about "unatural" being bad. Being right that the god whose existence is assumed thinks it's an abomination. Being right that homosexuality is, in fact the already assumed "unnatural'.

If the person with this position can't susbtantiate these axioms then they leave you with the option to agree or give up.

I'd not call this reasonable disagreement because it's more about giving up on a tedious chore of divesting the arguments of fallacy than it is about reaching a point at which there is mere subjective disagreement.

Here is an example of the same position being argued to the point at which reasonable disagreement is reached (note for the purpose of brevity I am assuming that the reasonable disagreement can't be further explored).

"Homosexuality should be discouraged."

"Why?"

"Because homosexuality is causing the decline in the birth rate of our Planet X."

"Yes, it is. But what's wrong with that?"

"The decline in population is causing great suffering. Because of the way our society is structured the population decline is causing suffering for the aging population that depends on the support from the new generations."

"But why not change the structure?"

"I think that is a good idea, but it can't be done as quickly."

"True, but what about immigration? That can help."

"Because of concerns about cultural identity I think that si a less preferrable solution."

"Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. Cultural identity is something I do not value."

Ok, that was a bit hard and is a bit of a stretch (arguing that homosexuality should be discouraged is a hard thing to make sound reasonable).

But there was intellectual integrity. There was exploration of other options with ultimate disagreement being on whether the other options were preferrable.

It was not aborted by the fallacy of assuming axioms that are used to assert ebing right. It was not aborted by the misidentification of what is and what is not subjective.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:45 pm
Of course, even we pussy-footed debaters like to be fierce sometimes. I sometimes like to be more robust in style - just to have fun....
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:48 pm
Quote:
I think Craven wants to be able to use the language that suits him in debate, (be king, in this analogy) but without consequence - ie without too many people getting upset (the nearest way, playing false) - he woulds't both highly and holily, as it were - (as I said, an imperfect analogy).


Sigh.

Ok I explained what I was doing in the first post.

1) Someone criticized me for using this kind of language.

2) They asserted that levelling the charge of "intellectual dishonesty" is "dishonest" and that it would be more "honest" to say "I disagree"

And my reaction to this is:

1) The civility angle I accept.

2) The equation of mere disagreement to intellectual dishonesty I do not accept.

It's not about what language to use. This criticism was leveled a long time ago and I don't plan to debate differently with those who don't mind it just because some people prefer more mild exchanges. I simply avoid heated debate with those people and ignore their attempts to dictate how I debate with others.

The point here is not the appropriateness of the language in terms of civility. That's too subjective for anything more that mere statement of preference.

The point is that there is such thing as intellectual dishonesty and it's more than mere disagreement.

Whether or not people should be offended is immaterial to what I'm saying here. When it comes to offense I generally deal with effect.

Here I am just disagreeing with the notion that intellectual dishonesty is nothing more than disagreement.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:54 pm
Actually, the debate was sparked by the use of "intellectual bankruptcy" I believe - intellectual dishonesty is a far less emotive term.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:55 pm
Sez me.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 08:58 pm
LOL

People are weird. For someone else the worse term will be "intellectually dishonest".

Poor vs. a liar.

People take things personally, when they do it really offends me.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Feb, 2004 09:03 pm
I am not displeased by Craven's premise, just the personal thrust of the word 'bankrupt' for the flaws he observes.

The argument he is observing may be bankrupt, probably is if he thinks so. The word 'Bankrupt' is a torero's cape, waving in faces as it excoriates. "Missing logic" or "without logical sequence" or some other descriptive phraseology could move understanding forward.

I get it that rigor is a value here, am attracted to learning it.
Am not suggesting you soften rigor, heh. I think excoriation (bankrupt perjorative) as part of argument description is problematic. Simple description is adequate.
0 Replies
 
 

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