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Reblogged:The “Straw Man” Fallacy

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1 hour ago, Nicky said:

Oh, Ok. Then I stand by my original retort: there are seven billion people on the planet, and calling someone a dogmatist for failing to listen to everyone's arguments is let's just say mathematically challenged.

You can't stand by a retort. Retorts aren't things in reality you can stand by. What are you, a Platonist?

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Yes, you're correct about that.

Yes, I know my entire position is correct. What are you arguing, then?

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f you're looking for charity, I'm not the guy to talk to. I expect exact language. I don't see any point in talking to someone who can't manage that much.

Indeed, I don't see any point in talking to someone whose use of languge is so imprecise that they both think they can literally stand next to a retort, concede the whole argument, and then BLANK OUT and continue arguing as if they haven't.

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Especially when, like in your case, the language being used is inexact on purpose, because using exact language would immediately expose the contradictions in your position.

"Contradictions in your position," says the Platonist.

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Only thing definite here is that your understanding of the concept needs some brushing up.

Concepts are the things one uses to understand the world. You don't "understand" a concept. Jeez, and you presume to lecture me on the "precise" use of language?

........

Do you see why the principle of charity is important. One should be as favorable in interpreting other people's words and arguments as one would like his words to be as favorably interpreted.

Deliberately misconstruing other's words to suit one's "arguments" is a childish game anyone can play. It's the pracitce of politicians and sophists, not philosophers.

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19 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Do you see why the principle of charity is important. One should be as favorable in interpreting other people's words and arguments as one would like his words to be as favorably interpreted.

Deliberately misconstruing other's words to suit one's "arguments" is a childish game anyone can play. It's the pracitce of politicians and sophists, not philosophers.

I didn't misconstrue anything you said. Your position (that Dr. Hurd is committing a logical fallacy) rests on the assumption that he has been presented with some kind of unnamed argument, by some unnamed person, and that he somehow brushed that argument aside.

I didn't misconstrue that. That's your actual position, deliberately relying on this vaguely defined, imaginary person and his argument. The reason why you are being denied a charitable interpretation on that is because it's not a mistake, it's a deliberate attempt at evasion. That is why you are refusing to use exact language, and why you keep switching between "not listening to arguments" and "dismissing arguments that are presented"...because you don't want to corner yourself into having to name this person and his argument, and point out the time and place when Dr. Hurd was presented with it and chose to brush it aside.

As for the times when someone makes an honest mistake, I DO afford them a charitable interpretation. For example, the second word in your third sentence is an honest mistake. So it's being interpreted charitably. I'm not acting as if your post is about building something the wrong way...even though it technically is.

But the not listen/not acknowledge confusion wasn't an honest mistake. It was deliberate vagueness, meant to help you evade the burden of proof for your accusation. So, I ask again: when did Dr. Hurd engage in a debate or conversation with this unnamed socialist of yours, and when was he presented with an argument he is ignoring?

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2 hours ago, Nicky said:

when did Dr. Hurd engage in a debate or conversation with this unnamed socialist of yours, and when was he presented with an argument he is ignoring?

Hurd advocates not listening to arguments, thereby dismissing them. You and Hurd seem to take the position you don't need to listen if someone says you made a strawman, or ever it sounds like. The thread isn't an argument on socialism, and Hurd's example is saying "unnamed socialists" are fine to use to comprehend a position socialists hold. That method is terrible. That's ripe for making a strawman.

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" This used to puzzle me. But then I came to understand that the person who responds this way (a) does not have a response to my points, and (b) does not wish to be held accountable for the implications of his points. "

Then he goes on to say he doesn't bother to understand what someone means when they say he is making a strawman argument. But that means he is refusing to listen to if and how he is in fact making a strawman. Perhaps the reason what they say doesn't make sense is because he really is making a strawman argument even when someone tells him he is... This wouldn't happen if he actually tried to understand the arguments people make. At worst, he is doing exactly what he is saying he doesn't like - not having a response to their actual points, and not wishing to be held accountable for his own errors about their points.

I probably should have qualified "not listening" by saying "some arguments", but in my mind I was thinking of how it is never a good idea to not listen. The only exception I can think of is just when there is a more pressing matter you need to attend to. But that doesn't mean you won't listen, it just means you set it aside for now.  

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38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

" This used to puzzle me. But then I came to understand that the person who responds this way (a) does not have a response to my points, and (b) does not wish to be held accountable for the implications of his points.

He addresses the technique to use in his closing paragraph:

The next time you make the case for freedom and capitalism over statism and socialism, or for any other rational idea, such as free will and personal responsibility, and a person accuses you of fighting a “straw man,” then make that person explain why his ideas, if practiced consistently, lead to the consequences they do. Hold him or her responsible for the logical outcome of his or her ideas, when practiced consistently.

On 5/1/2016 at 4:55 AM, Michael J. Hurd Ph.D. said:

This used to puzzle me. But then I came to understand that the person who responds this way (a) does not have a response to my points, and (b) does not wish to be held accountable for the implications of his points.

I don't know how long he has been publishing these daily doses of reason (he has articles going back to at least Jan. 3, 2008). He has probably received so many allegations of supposedly making a straw man argument, this is the conclusion he drew from the typical charge. He posts these on Facebook as well, and receives a broad spectrum of replies—so of the more reasoned replies he takes the time to respond to.

 

Edited by dream_weaver
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The closing paragraph is an example of avoiding your own misunderstandings of the person's argument and asking them to argue against your misunderstanding. He made no effort to explain that you should check if you really are making a strawman. The closing paragraph only works if you know what the other person is trying to say. Hurd specifically said he responds this way towards people he doesn't understand that claim he is making a strawman. How is it not sensible to start with asking how you made a strawman? You don't necessarily need to ask the person. Asking yourself is enough - as long as you do the work to prove it to yourself. 

A more responsible way to go about it is if someone accuses you of making a strawman, you should look at the context. Do you have reason to suspect you really did make a strawman? What sort of information could help you understand their position better? Do you have reason to suspect they are trying to intimidate you? Are you oversimplifying their position?


 

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Hurd: I posted a self contained article.

Reader: You're arguing a straw man position.

Hurd: What position am I arguing that is the straw man here?

 

This is a very distilled take on the OP article.

 

Peikoff does this with the skeptic charge of "maybe you're making a error."

Peikoff: What's the error?

Skeptic: I don't know, but people are capable of error—maybe you made one.

 

You can't argue against such a tactic. The onus of proof principle applies.

Charge: You made a straw man, or you might have made an error.

Response: How so? Where? Present the evidence, please.

 

Edited by dream_weaver
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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

You can't argue against such a tactic. The onus of proof principle applies.

Charge: You made a straw man, or you might have made an error.

Response: How so? Where? Present the evidence, please.

Yeah, that would be sensible. I just don't get the sense Hurd is willing to listen to anyone that says he has made a strawman. Or if he does except in certain circumstances, he didn't convey it very well. Once you establish some rapport that you have their beliefs right, then discussing logical conclusions are fine. But this discussion is really applicable to my thread on "logical omniscience". Maybe the part bugging me is that beliefs seem to be equated with logical conclusions. If a person says taxes are good, it doesn't mean their position is they support theft.

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Here are his first three opening remarks.

Occasionally, when somebody does not have a response to a point I make, they reply by saying, “You’re making a straw man argument.”

For example, “Socialists do not wish to coerce or force people to do anything. It’s a straw man argument.”

Or, “AA doesn’t wish to impose faith or the group on people; you’re making a straw man argument.”

 

Now, one at a time:

Occasionally, when somebody does not have a response to a point I make, they reply by saying, “You’re making a straw man argument.”

Dr. Hurd made a point in his article.

Response: You're making a straw man argument.

 

Concrete example:

For example, “Socialists do not wish to coerce or force people to do anything. It’s a straw man argument.”

Response: You stated "Socialists do not wish to coerce or force people to do anything." I (as the responder) claim that this is a straw man argument.

 

Concrete example:

Or, “AA doesn’t wish to impose faith or the group on people; you’re making a straw man argument.”

Response: You stated "AA doesn't wish to impose faith or the group on people." I (as the responder) claim that this is a straw man argument.

 

Without having the original article in front of us, and the precise response, Dr. Hurd does rely on the rapport he has built over time with his regular audience. Dr. Peikoff, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Scott do (did) similar things on their respective radio shows, regarding rapport stating something to the effect of: "If you listen to me long enough, you'll see things my way too."

Dr. Hurd most likely spreads via word of mouth.

Someone tells me about a rough situation they might be going through. I remember an article Dr. Hurd wrote about it. I recommend the article. The person reads it and perhaps has some questions they ask me that I might be able to try answering directly, or find another article that elaborates more directly with the specific questions raised.

 

Let's take the next section:

This used to puzzle me. But then I came to understand that the person who responds this way (a) does not have a response to my points, and (b) does not wish to be held accountable for the implications of his points.

Dr. Hurd: I came to understand that the person who responds as dream_weaver illustrated in his elaboration . . .

 

Do I have Dr. Hurd's beliefs right?  While I could try to bring the contention raised in this thread thus far to his attention, I would not be comfortable doing so. As I read it so far, the specific examples he has taken the time to come to understand do not have a response to his specific points. As to point (b), leading an adversary's responses to their ultimate logical conclusion is not one of my stronger suits at this time.

 

I don't know that Dr. Hurd is not willing to listen to someone that says he has made a straw man argument. It might have more to do with the manner in how the charge of straw man is substantiated.

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“Socialists wish to coerce or force people to do anything.”

This would be a strawman argument. That's kind of the point. "Socialism ultimately leads to coercion" isn't a strawman. But it doesn't mean they believe in coercing others.

Edited by Eiuol
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On 5/6/2016 at 7:00 AM, Nicky said:

I didn't misconstrue anything you said. Your position (that Dr. Hurd is committing a logical fallacy) rests on the assumption that he has been presented with some kind of unnamed argument, by some unnamed person, and that he somehow brushed that argument aside.

I didn't misconstrue that. That's your actual position, deliberately relying on this vaguely defined, imaginary person and his argument. The reason why you are being denied a charitable interpretation on that is because it's not a mistake, it's a deliberate attempt at evasion. That is why you are refusing to use exact language, and why you keep switching between "not listening to arguments" and "dismissing arguments that are presented"...because you don't want to corner yourself into having to name this person and his argument, and point out the time and place when Dr. Hurd was presented with it and chose to brush it aside.

As for the times when someone makes an honest mistake, I DO afford them a charitable interpretation. For example, the second word in your third sentence is an honest mistake. So it's being interpreted charitably. I'm not acting as if your post is about building something the wrong way...even though it technically is.

But the not listen/not acknowledge confusion wasn't an honest mistake. It was deliberate vagueness, meant to help you evade the burden of proof for your accusation. So, I ask again: when did Dr. Hurd engage in a debate or conversation with this unnamed socialist of yours, and when was he presented with an argument he is ignoring?

You are making a fool of yourself.

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

“Socialists wish to coerce or force people to do anything.”

This would be a strawman argument. That's kind of the point. "Socialism ultimately leads to coercion" isn't a strawman. But it doesn't mean they believe in coercing others.

And if you just stopped after stating: "This would be a straw man argument." ? (a)

 

Your elaboration can be dealt with, however. It could either be accepted as a valid observation, or further reduced by perhaps asking: You say "Socialism ultimately leads to coercion" is not a straw man. Yet, if socialists don't believe in coercing others, how does that claim juxtapose with socialism leading to coercion? (b)

 

(a) falls in line with not having a response to the point. (b) would reveal the willingness (or not) to be held accountable for an implication of such a position.

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4 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

You are making a fool of yourself.

He's calling you out on the carpet as my original posts had.

 

You have made the allegation that I that am misconstruing Dr. Hurd's article. Can you demonstrate it without re-validating the "foolish notions" your quoted response is referring to from this post?

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51 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

(a) falls in line with not having a response to the point. (b) would reveal the willingness (or not) to be held accountable for an implication of such a position.

'A' does not mean lacking a response. 'A' -is- a response. It means they think you committed a fallacy. There is no way to respond to a strawman, other than to say "it's not my position, it's a strawman".

'B' only reveals that a person disagrees with your conclusion. If you are right in the end, it doesn't mean the other person -believes- in theft.

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2 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

'A' does not mean lacking a response. 'A' -is- a response. It means they think you committed a fallacy. There is no way to respond to a strawman, other than to say "it's not my position, it's a strawman".

'B' only reveals that a person disagrees with your conclusion. If you are right in the end, it doesn't mean the other person -believes- in theft.

The difference in the usage of language by its various constituents continually provides me with anomalies contained within its seeming diversity and lack of ability to consistently refer it back to a common source of referents.

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