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Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
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stugatz Offline
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Post: #1
Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
I read Vox Day's SJWs Always Lie not too long ago, and he mainly says:

1. Argue against a logical point with logic
2. Argue against a false logical point with real logic
3. Argue against an emotional argument with your own emotional argument - just troll them and don't even bother making it serious.

I'd ask another question, though - are logical fallacies the be-all end-all? Is there a point where a logical argument can be defeated by one that's completely fallacy-ridden? (I've noticed over the years that liberals LOVE having been on a debate team in high school...they can know nothing about an issue, but shoot your point down with "nope, that's a Texas Sharpshooter, a slippery slope, and a tu quoque, you lose.")

We already have the "fallacy fallacy", which is an acknowledgement that a logical fallacy doesn't necessarily sink an argument out of hand. But how far does it go?
07-04-2017 11:04 PM
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Corollary Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
I don't think a true debate involves winning or losing, so the use of logical fallacies should be limited to making everyone's arguments stronger.

But unfortunately everyone wants debates to be adversarial, so pointing out logical fallacies is just another way to discredit your opponent. The winner (if there is one) is the person who can sling the most shit at their opponent while dodging the shit throw at them. The actual arguments don't matter much.
07-04-2017 11:11 PM
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weambulance Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
Quote:Is there a point where a logical argument can be defeated by one that's completely fallacy-ridden?

Yes: when you are trying to use dialectic and didn't notice you're on the rhetoric pitch. Intelligent people make that mistake all the time.

Most people--I'd say at least 90%--are rhetorically oriented, so to speak. So you're not going to reach them with dialectic, and it's a waste of time to try. Rhetoric by its nature is often full of logical fallacies because it's designed to evoke emotions, not logical analysis.

That #DraftOurDaughters meme during the election was brilliant. And it was a complete lie; it was basically a reductio ad absurdum targeting progressivism and feminism, while cutting straight into one of the core human instincts: protecting women, because they make more humans. Nobody was talking seriously about signing women up for the draft, but it worked anyway.

Humans aren't computers, so just because someone's technically wrong on logical terms, that doesn't mean their argument will automatically fail against your solid logical argument.
07-04-2017 11:47 PM
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Paracelsus Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
Gerry Spence had the best answer on this subject. He is frank that if logic supports your argument, you ride it all the way. But if it doesn't, that is not the end of the debate and never should be, because many if not most of the things we treasure in life - art, love, music, statuary - accord to aesthetics, which in turn are about as illogical a thing that can be conceived. Outside of pure mathematics, court decisions are about as close as you get to applied logic, and the very fact that there are such things as split decisions in appeal courts all but proves that nobody really applies pure logic to human affairs.

If you want to make a liberal mad, don't accuse them of engaging in a logical fallacy. Call it what John T. Reed does: intellectual dishonesty. Because when such fallacies are used deliberately, that's all they are. When we purport to engage in logical debate, we are committing to adhere to two rules of discussion, and two only: debate the facts, or debate the logic. If you deliberately choose to abandon the accepted standards of logical debate, which like it or not include logical fallacies, then you are being intellectually dishonest because you are no longer attempting to discuss matters in an objective, rational way.

This label of intellectual dishonesty necessarily ratchets the confrontation up, because nobody likes to be called dishonest, i.e. a liar. Doubly so if the person doesn't understand the fallacy they're making and honestly believes the warped position they have. But it also injects the debate with emotion, which is the driver of all thought - not logic. It removes the chance to mockingly criticise you for being a "Harry Potter" type or an autist, as I've been accused of when I have pointed out logical fallacies in the past (and that's probably the fastest, hardest counterpunch to someone who wants to point out a shitload of logical fallacies with your argument.)

This whole issue, though, is better dealt with by another method. Deployment of logical fallacies or counters to them ignores the wider strategic question, the one Gerry Spence asks. Before starting an argument, ask yourself: what do I want?

Is it to convince the other person of the invalidity of their argument? Pointing out logical fallacies with the argument is usually going to work only on someone who's receptive to the fact their arguments may be fallacious. Mostly that doesn't include anyone, because the vast majority of people in the West are narcissists and will not respond to an argument that impacts on their self-interest, that is, an argument that impacts on their self-image as logical, rational, y'know, good people.

Is it to convince other people watching of the invalidity of the argument? All right, then who are you actually trying to convince and of what precisely do you want to convince them? Are you trying to make the argument, or are you trying to show the other person is a moron? Different horses for different courses in this area. Pointing out logical fallacies may not be the best way to do it; a good, values-based, emotion-driven argument versus identifying a hundred logical fallacies may be the difference between lightning and a lightning bug in this area. (Although in passing, subtly pointing out that others are watching -- e.g. "I'm sure it's apparent to anyone reading all this that..." -- can work to piss the other person off, because it's both outgrouping and making the other person acutely conscious of the potential for shame, i.e. the main motivator for narcissists.)

Is it just to piss the other person off? Then logical fallacies will be deployed for the purpose of badgering, or Walrusing if you will, and most people in real life know a fucking badger when they see one: the guy who says "nope, that's a Texas Sharpshooter, a slippery slope, and a tu quoque."

In short, if you're going to debate with someone, start playing 4D chess. Start asking yourself what you actually want out of this encounter.

Remissas, discite, vivet.
God save us from people who mean well. -storm
(This post was last modified: 07-05-2017 12:00 AM by Paracelsus.)
07-04-2017 11:58 PM
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Engineer Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
^^^
Post of the day. +1 rep point.
07-05-2017 09:18 AM
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Paracelsus
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Post: #6
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
My experience is that largely the "muh fallacy" people don't really know what logical fallacies actually are.

"For you yourselves are aware that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2)
07-05-2017 11:13 AM
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goodington Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-04-2017 11:58 PM)Paracelsus Wrote:  Mostly that doesn't include anyone, because the vast majority of people in the West are narcissists and will not respond to an argument that impacts on their self-interest, that is, an argument that impacts on their self-image as logical, rational, y'know, good people.

I've found that people are much more willing to concede a point in a private, in person conversation than they are in a public forum such as Facebook. It's not so much their own self-image as it is the way they want onlookers to perceive them.
07-05-2017 12:08 PM
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Repo Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
Its a waste of time arguing with people whose arguments are full of logical fallacies. Very smart people can type up a lengthy post full of them but are so well worded that they don't even all register. Then you spend all your time picking apart their arguments and logic that you don't even touch the subject at hand, till someone gives up and everyone walks away no smarter than before.

Smart people know when they are using a logical fallacy, so if they use one anyway then they are rarely interested in actually having a factual debate, but are more interested in "winning".
07-05-2017 01:55 PM
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Blaster Offline
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Post: #9
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-04-2017 11:04 PM)stugatz Wrote:  I read Vox Day's SJWs Always Lie not too long ago, and he mainly says:

1. Argue against a logical point with logic
2. Argue against a false logical point with real logic
3. Argue against an emotional argument with your own emotional argument - just troll them and don't even bother making it serious.

I'd ask another question, though - are logical fallacies the be-all end-all? Is there a point where a logical argument can be defeated by one that's completely fallacy-ridden? (I've noticed over the years that liberals LOVE having been on a debate team in high school...they can know nothing about an issue, but shoot your point down with "nope, that's a Texas Sharpshooter, a slippery slope, and a tu quoque, you lose.")

We already have the "fallacy fallacy", which is an acknowledgement that a logical fallacy doesn't necessarily sink an argument out of hand. But how far does it go?

The first thing to note is that logic is a component of a more complex concept of "rational argument," which also includes concepts of facts and first principles. The general answer to all your questions is that it depends on the game being played and also what your motives are. Vox Day's advice is a quick-and-dirty way to correctly identity the operative game and respond appropriately. When the goal is discovery of truth, rational argument has proven to be the best tool humans have discovered. So when you want to learn the truth, use the most rational argument possible, and try to engage with people interested in the same.

The second thing to note is that rhetoric, in the sense of being the aspect of persuasion in communication, is an essential component of any argument, even a rational one. Rather than a dichotomy, rhetoric and logic are best thought of as components of a whole. The common term "empty rhetoric" comes from this idea. It means an argument with no substance, only cheap persuasive tricks. The implication is that a substantial argument has a rhetorical component.

The problem with purely rational argument is that, cognitively speaking, it is very expensive. Humans can't afford to use reason to make individual decisions, so they are built to rely on intuition, and then to use reason to explain and justify that intuition to others (The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt). Over time, those explanations are acted out and become a body of knowledge passed down among generations of people as they evolve (see Jordan Peterson's Biblical Lecture Series for more insight on this).

Because rationality tends to yield more pragmatic truth than intuition in the long run, we have a strong incentive to set up systems (aka games) designed to subvert human intuition in favor of reason. The scientific method is one system. A jury trial is another system. These games are operative at all levels of society with varying degrees of formality. Often, the goals of these systems or games will be to produce a decision or "action items," to use corporate-speak.

Generally speaking, when the goal is to make a decision or advance knowledge, reason and logic should be highly valued. But the goal is not always to advance knowledge or make a decision. Sometimes, the main goal of conversation is socialization or entertainment. Sometimes the main goal is to defeat the opposing side by any means necessary. Sometimes the goal is to motivate specific, desired behavior, which is nearly the definition of propaganda.

Rhetoric can be employed in many situations for many reasons, even in an otherwise rationally-oriented setting. Used judiciously, fallacious reasoning and technically weak arguments can lubricate a discussion without getting in the way of truth. Plus, there are many situations where the whole situation is primarily subjective anyway, where there is no truth beyond persuasion. In that case, reason might just be getting in the way. For an example, consider this bit of rhetorical genius:


Have fun making a rational, orderly, reasoned argument that Kim Jong Un's aggression is a pathetic waste of time, and getting anyone to pay attention. Instead: North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? I lol'd.
(This post was last modified: 07-05-2017 04:05 PM by Blaster.)
07-05-2017 04:01 PM
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agskor Offline
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Post: #10
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-04-2017 11:58 PM)Paracelsus Wrote:  Outside of pure mathematics, court decisions are about as close as you get to applied logic, and the very fact that there are such things as split decisions in appeal courts all but proves that nobody really applies pure logic to human affairs.

What those two prove is that when you [correctly] apply "pure logic"/reason to different allogical/arational mathematical axioms/human premises, you can get completely different logical/rational conclusions.
(This post was last modified: 07-05-2017 04:28 PM by agskor.)
07-05-2017 04:09 PM
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Blaster Offline
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RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-05-2017 04:09 PM)agskor Wrote:  
(07-04-2017 11:58 PM)Paracelsus Wrote:  Outside of pure mathematics, court decisions are about as close as you get to applied logic, and the very fact that there are such things as split decisions in appeal courts all but proves that nobody really applies pure logic to human affairs.

Have you taken any advanced maths? Have you been inside of the actual court-room?

What those two prove is that when you [correctly] apply "pure logic" to different allogical axioms/premises, you can get completely different "logical" conclusions.

Commonly, a good dialectic discussion uses a charitable interpretation of the opponent's argument. In this case, it's clear from context that Paralcelus is really talking about reason, not logic. So the best refutation would address the point he was trying to make, rather than harping on what appears to be a careless word choice.
(This post was last modified: 07-05-2017 04:28 PM by Blaster.)
07-05-2017 04:26 PM
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agskor Offline
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Post: #12
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-05-2017 04:26 PM)Blaster Wrote:  Commonly, a good dialectic discussion uses a charitable interpretation of the opponent's argument. In this case, it's clear from context that Paralcelus is really talking about reason, not logic. So the best refutation would address the point he was trying to make, rather than harping on what appears to be a careless word choice.

Your assumption of this being a dialectic discussion is unfounded.
07-05-2017 04:29 PM
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Paracelsus Offline
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Post: #13
RE: Are logical fallacies always appropriate? When do they not matter?
(07-05-2017 12:08 PM)goodington Wrote:  
(07-04-2017 11:58 PM)Paracelsus Wrote:  Mostly that doesn't include anyone, because the vast majority of people in the West are narcissists and will not respond to an argument that impacts on their self-interest, that is, an argument that impacts on their self-image as logical, rational, y'know, good people.

I've found that people are much more willing to concede a point in a private, in person conversation than they are in a public forum such as Facebook. It's not so much their own self-image as it is the way they want onlookers to perceive them.

Unfortunately, for many people their self-image comes from how they want onlookers to perceive them. That's the problem with narcissism.

Remissas, discite, vivet.
God save us from people who mean well. -storm
07-05-2017 07:43 PM
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