Corey and I were having a discussion over Gale recently, and during a conversation he said this:
“In my highschool philosophy class, we had a Professor (or an Associate Professor?) from a school (I think it was UMKC) come in and talk about framework arguments one day, asserting that most every argument you’ll ever hear is a framework argument, and unless you can get past that you’re wanking. That’s what it seems to me that 99% of internet “debates” are. You know?”
For those not dabbling in philosophy, syllogistic logic, or argumentation theory, a framework argument goes something like this: “I believe in a class of thought (liberalism, libertarianism, free-market capitalism, Zoroastrianism, logical positivism, whatever). Your point is contraindicated by some premise in my class of thought. Ergo, your point is wrong.” You see this a *lot* in political discourse. You also see the inevitable related behaviors: “Your point is a point that is commonly associated with a class of thought with which I disagree, ergo I will assume that you are a believer in that class of thought and argue against the class of thought, rather than the point (which I will coincidentally ignore completely, as it is inconvenient),” and “Your point is a point that is commonly associated with a class of thought with which I agree, ergo I will assume that you are a believer in that class of thought and assume all base principles are true in our discussion.” There’s also my most favoritist extended version of this, “Your point is a point that may or may not be associated with the fringe of a class of thought with which I disagree, but I will counter your point by using a badly-constructed reductio ad absurdum to imply you’re a loony.”
Not to give reductio ad absurdum a bad name in general, but it’s so grossly misapplied in today’s discourse I would like to see a two year moratorium just on the principle of forcing people who misuse it to find something else to abuse horribly.
This is annoying when you’re not a liberal, and conservatives assume that you are because you are discussing a political stance that is commonly associated with liberalism, or vice versa.
This is critical – free market advocates, particularly in recent months, have tended to adopt pretty straightforward anarcho-capitalist rhetoric even though precious few of those advocates are actually anarcho-capitalists. The reason this is such a problematic line of attack is that anarcho-capitalist rhetoric only makes sense if you’re willing to go the Full Monty in favor of anarcho-capitalism. If you’re not willing to go that far, then you have to be able to argue against a particular government proposal for intervention or in favor of a particular proposed deregulation on terms specific to that proposal. Simply assuming that what already exists is in some way more of a free market than what would exist if a particular government action were taken too often ignores the way in which the very system one is defending is already dependent on any number of government interventions. [ed. note: emphasis mine]
I suspect that Mr. Thompson and I might disagree on a topic or two, but at the very least arguing with him over beer and peanuts would likely be the sort of discussion that would be worth having in the first place.