I been told on Internet forums that my problem is that I try to reason things out, rather than go with what I feel. It is true that I try to reason things out, I don’t consider it a problem. The problem is how often people tell me that emotions should trump facts and logic. That is disturbing. I think reasoning is held in such low esteem because facts and logic are subject to error, whereas feelings are certain in the mind of those expressing them.
I am interested in the issues of the day, and I have plenty of opinions. However, I cannot imagine why anyone would care about how I feel about them. What I hope to do is explain how my opinions are derived from facts plus logic.
Constructing an argument carefully by no means forces you to agree with it. The claimed facts may be wrong, there may overlooked relevant facts, or there may be an error in the process of deducing a conclusion from the facts. If you have relevant facts backed by evidence or a different line of reasoning, then welcome to the club and I hope you will comment. If you have references that support or deny a point of fact, then I’d like to hear about that too.
I hope you will not tell me how you feel. I don’t care. If you believe that there are no objective facts, and that “we all live in our own realities,” well, keep on your medications as best you can, and don’t tell about that either.
I expect to post general observations about the nature of argumentation, but to spend more time on concrete examples than on abstract principles. One purpose is to opine on issues important to our society where I think that a politician or commentator has gone wrong. The other reason is that too much abstraction is deadly dull, and even though I like the subject, I have my limits.
Finally, there is difference between truth seeking and debate. The purpose of a debate is usually to win. That may include tactics of
- raising too many issues for the opponent to answer in the time or space allotted,
- disputing facts that should be stipulated,
- misconstruing the meaning of statements and pressing that as an issue, or
- deliberately introducing logical errors or misconstruing evidence in the hope your opponent will get tired and give up trying to refute you.
Those tactics are common in Internet forums. They come naturally and require no coaching.
Truth seeking does not come naturally. It means that if you learn a fact that helps your opponent, you are obliged to reveal it. You must admit what you believe to be true. You must answer all the questions raised as best you can, even if it means facing the horror of admitting you don’t know. You must concede a point when when it is lost. All this is contrary to human nature and to training in the legal profession.
There are forums appropriate for debate and debating skills. A goal here is to understand the difference between debate and truthseeking.