September 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Subscribe

« Another Adult Stem Cell Therapy Success | Main | All Head and No Heart (Video) »

August 19, 2010

Comments

Appeal to consequences.

Ron, this isn't an argument about which position is true, it's a revealing of what is at stake in our arguments about what is true and a discussion of the evolution of these false ideas so we can know better how to argue against them (see the first paragraph).

However, you're probably taking it as an argument for truth because good and bad are self-attesting. You intuitively know that "good" and "bad" are objective and "bad" is not the way things should be; therefore, you recognize that evil consequences are evidence that ideas are going in the wrong direction, and jump to thinking that was Melinda's point, defending against it, and protesting that the "good" and "bad" of things is really no indication of whether or not they match the truth of reality (since reality is amoral and has no good purpose). But this was not the purpose of the post, so why did it immediately jump to your mind?

The fact that you heard a description of bad consequences as an argument against an idea's truth (though it wasn't used that way) shows that you're fighting against your own innate knowledge that the ultimate truth behind the universe is good and not merely amoral. :-)

"Note the Kantian influence. It is the individual that assigns value and meaning to human life, bereft of any extrinsic standard or influence."

Nicoll needs to re-read Kant. It is not individuals that assign value and meaning to human life. That value (if not the meaning) arises from human nature as rational creatures:

"[R]ational beings are designated 'persons,' because their nature indicates that they are ends in themselves, i.e., things which may not be used merely as means. Such a being is thus an object of respect . . . Such beings are not merely subjective ends whose existence as a result of our action has a worth for us but are objective ends, i.e, beings whose existence in itself is an end. Such an end is one for which no other end can be substituted, to which these beings should serve merely as means. For, without them, nothing of absolute worth could be found, and if all worth is conditional and thus contingent, no supreme practical principle for reason could be found anywhere. . . . [R]ational nature exists as an end in itself." (from Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals)

That said, one could argue that the unborn have no intrinsic value, according to Kant, since they have no rational nature yet. (Though his first categorical imperative would rule out abortion.) But Kant certainly isn't arguing for whimsically conferring value on things, including human beings. There is, indeed, an "extrinsic standard of influence," namely the dictates of reason.

"Bad ideas have bad consequences."

By "bad" do you mean incorrect? I suppose it's uncontroversial to say that one morally bad idea can cause morally bad consequences. So, I assume you mean that incorrect ideas lead to bad consequences.

Amy seems to have this understanding of things when writing,

"You intuitively know that "good" and "bad" are objective and "bad" is not the way things should be; therefore, you recognize that evil consequences are evidence that ideas are going in the wrong direction . . ."

But this seems oversimplified, if not outright wrong. Evil consequences can be the direct result of a true idea, just as good consequences can come from false ideas.

Looks like the author's first name is Regis--not Roger.

Hi Amy,

My comment was very short. No more seemed/seems required. Taken a piece at a time, or taken as a whole, the piece is one long argument from consequences. So is the post. Well no, it's a short one.

Your first paragraph points to Melinda's first paragraph which you say contradicts me. But please explain: show how the piece (or the post) does something other than appeal to consequences.

The rest of your response is a misreading of me and seems unrelated to the piece anyway.

Ron

>> the piece is one long argument from consequences. So is the post.

I think you're misunderstanding the post. It's written to Christians, so it begins with the understanding that certain ideas are wrong, it doesn't seek to prove that they are wrong (that's left to other posts).

If you want to find an argument in here at all, the only one is, there is much at stake in these discussions, therefore we Christians need to get serious about understanding the other side's ideas (including the history of those ideas) and arguing these points that we already agree are wrong based on arguments not included in this particular post.

So since the point is to show that there's much at stake (not to prove the other side is wrong), it seems perfectly appropriate to explain what's at stake (i.e., the consequences).

But again, this argument is only behind the scenes, since the explicit point of this post is to educate Christians about the flow of thought that led to current ideas so we can more effectively refute them at the root, and that's not an argument at all.

To fallaciously appeal to consequences in an argument is to say that I don't like the result, therefore the idea is false. That is not what this post is doing.

Maybe we can be more clear. An argument is the offering of a reason to believe something. It doesn't have to be a syllogism. Guernica is an argument. OK?

The piece and the post make implicit arguments. For example: The upper story leap is wrong (an error) because it leads to Roe v. Wade - an argument from consequences.

Because the arguments are implicit they will be more or less audible depending on one's background. Reading the original piece, someone undecided about abortion but very well versed in the errors of Kant might come down against Roe v. Wade via a genetic fallacy: if it's derived from Kant it must be wrong. "Note the Kantian influence." A close reading of the piece and the post will turn up numerous examples like these. Then there is the tone.

That the material is written to Christians doesn't make it something other than an argument. One can make arguments for at least three reasons 1) to counter and trouble the opposition, 2) to comfort and bolster one's allies, 3) to assuage one's own doubts. (I hear a lot of the last one in the arguments of Christian apologists. Your mileage will probably vary.)

That those Christians might already feel they have reasons to believe all the things the piece would have them believe doesn't make the implicit arguments in the piece go away. Reason #2 applies and besides people love being told what they already know - or believe they know.

So, that's my effort to be more clear. I want to know specifically how the piece is 'helpful' in the way you and Milinda have claimed.

RonH

>>The upper story leap is wrong (an error) because it leads to Roe v. Wade - an argument from consequences. Because the arguments are implicit they will be more or less audible depending on one's background.

Again, Ron, she's not making that argument no matter how it makes you feel to read about the consequences. Since this post is directed toward Christians who already believe that the upper story leap is wrong, she's not trying to convince them it's wrong.

She's not making an implicit argument for a conclusion (e.g., "the upper story leap is wrong"), she's beginning with certain conclusions already in place because of the nature of the brevity of a blog post and because of the audience. Of course she would have to argue for those starting points if she were directing this toward atheists, but in this case, she is not, as is made clear in her first paragraph). But just because she begins with the assumption of certain conclusions (e.g., the upper story leap is not the proper way to look at religion), that doesn't mean she's improperly arguing for those conclusions.

You are simply confirming what I said you were doing in my very first comment. You're reading it as implicit arguments because of the reasons I explained. However, that is not the argument being made.

To refute an idea, it helps to know the evolution of that idea so you can address the root. In this case, one might go after the second story leap in an argument with someone about life issues, and then argue from there. It makes more sense to go after the root then to try to fight against every leaf. Therefore, it's important to know where these false ideas come from. If you're looking for arguments for why any point of the idea's history (from beginning to end) is wrong, you'll have to look elsewhere on this site. You'll find plenty of arguments. But posts are short, and arguing for or against any of these points is not the purpose of the post.

I think I've made myself clear, so I'll let you have the last word.

The comments to this entry are closed.