Archive for June 2020


“At the risk of being tediously pedantic, let’s consider one or two possible disanalogies between a fistfight and a political debate. To start with, the purpose of a debate is, presumably, to convince someone somewhere of something. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Of course, in a great many contexts your opponent won’t change his mind. Even in the context of casual arguments among friends, it’s rare for anyone to change his mind “in the room.” It’s very difficult in practice for most people to disentangle their egos from the positions they’re defending during a conversation, even a relatively calm one. (As anyone who’s ever been around philosophy professors and graduate students knows, even professional training in weighing the virtues of arguments doesn’t do all that much to cut down on this problem. The best you can usually hope for there is a grudging, “That’s an interesting point. I’ll have to think about it.”) It’s easy to draw extreme conclusions from this observation. I’ve heard many people who clearly thought they were being insightful saying that no one ever changes their mind because of an argument. This view is as silly and psychologically shallow as the mistake you’d be making by expecting an opponent to change their mind in the room. People do change their minds all the time, and arguments can and do play a role in this process, sometimes because they gradually gnaw at the back of your mind and sometimes because after enough time has passed that your ego isn’t bound up in some previously held position, you just realize to your own surprise that you now accept the contrary position for the very reasons that you dismissed when you first heard them.

(…) A conversion in the other direction would be just as unlikely for all the same psychologically obvious reasons. When you’re arguing with someone whose personal and professional worlds would be thrown into crisis if they came around to your point of view, or even just with your racist uncle who’s deeply emotionally invested in what he’s saying about immigration, convincing that person isn’t going to be a realistic goal. If there’s a worthwhile purpose to be served by engaging with them—and in the uncle case, there may not be—it’s to convince persuadable observers.

One way of doing this, if the observers are gullible enough to fall for it, is to just rattle off superficially plausible-sounding points so quickly that no one has time to stop and think about them. If this is your strategy, then the analogy between a point made in a debate as a punch thrown in a fistfight makes perfect sense. If an opponent has their guard down … you should keep hitting them. Otherwise, they might recover their equilibrium and hit you back! Again, this is the opposite of how you should act if you actually want to make sure that your argument is a good one and your conclusion is true. If you want that, you need to slow the hell down and think through possible objections.”

(Ben Burgis – Give them an argument. Logic for the left)

(Chapter II – Facts don’t care about your feelings: Ben Shapiro vs. David Hume)



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literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.