Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

False Dichotomy

This is a favourite tactic of many debaters but does seem more prevalent on the left. The basis is to give a two horned argument and in doing so make it so that refuting one horn gets you speared by the other. For example:

"If you care about people you must be a socialist"

This gives you two options, grasp one horn and declare that you care about people and are therefore a socialist or go for the other and state that you disagree with socialism and therefore do not care about people. It is of course bollocks because of the excluded middle, it is not only possible to care about people and not be a socialist, it is entirely possible not to be a socialist because you care about people.

However, this false dilemma, a Morton's Fork if ever there was one, has had a profound effect on our society. The reason that so many people are so hostile to the right is because we have failed to deal with this issue.

There is an instinctive feeling that the typical lefty solution, (hand over cash), is nicer than the right's way of doing things, (create conditions so that it is possible to earn cash). The thing is that only one way works, (no prizes for guessing the obvious). I recommend that you go and have a look at this Samizdata post for another example of the problem and also a solution:

Don't let them set artificial terms of debate.


Prodicus said...

Good point but you might want to edit that quote. Personally, I would not must a socialist with or without a bargepole.

Falco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Falco said...

Thanks, must learn to read things through

Praguetory said...

Do you have the Madsen Pirie book on arguing? He uses the horn metaphor, too.