Tag Archives: Smoking

Responding to an attack posing as an argument

1 Jun

Illogical Lucy – You have no right to say that abortion is wrong!

Logical Joe – Why is that?

Illogical Lucy – You’re not willing to: 

  • adopt an unwanted child
  • take care of babies outside of the womb
  • bring the pregnant mom into your home

The presupposition of Illogical Lucy is that ‘Only prior action legitimizes one to make a belief statement/value judgment’

Is that true?  If it were, then the following convictions held by certain people would not be allowed into the arena of ideas for discussion:

  • The practice of 19th century American slavery was unethical (YOU 21st century American haven’t freed a slave or refused to buy a slave.)
  • Spouse and child abuse is wrong (Have you offered shelter to assault victims?)
  • Common Core curriculum usage should enforced by the federal government (YOU haven’t earned an advanced degree in education.)
  • Smoking is harmful to your health (You haven’t kicked the habit, so who are you to make such a judgment statement since you still smoke!)

The last rebuke of the anti-smoking belief is actually a known fallacy called Tu Quoque – or ‘you too?’  It goes like this:

If you participate in a bad action, you have no ground to stand on in order to claim that smoking is harmful.

Think about it, the person who can’t stop smoking but recognizes its detrimental side effects, is he or she not in an excellent position to call out and publicize the dangers?  I can imagine a man or a woman pleading with a teenager NOT to start smoking:

  • Young man, don’t start on the path of this foul and addictive habit.  I once was your age. Just like you I wanted to fit in, to look manly.  But boy do I regret it.  I’m a pack-a-day guy now and, you hear this cough?  – it’s not good.  My doctor keeps threatening me that I’ll die young from Emphysema like my Pa and his dad. Besides, my mouth stinks, my wife doesn’t like kissing me, my clothes reek, and I spend about $40 a week on this nasty addiction.

Here’s another tactical version of this ‘squash your opponent so his point of view can’t be voiced’:  Since you can’t possibly know what it’s like to be trans or unemployed or stuck with an unwanted pregnancy or hispanic or unemployed then……

  • Your view doesn’t count.  Your belief has no credibility.  Your opinion is wrong out of the gate.

Is that so?  That bullying tactic is actually a version of the Genetic Fallacy.  This maneuver draws strength from the false idea that the origin of the belief can de-legitimize the position.

Logical Joes and Janes KNOW that a premise, that is a belief, position, claim or view must stand or fall on the merits of the reasons backing it up.  It matters not at all WHO is putting forth the argument.  There are only 3 elements that must ‘pass muster’.

  1. Are the terms in each of the premises clear or ambiguous?
  2. Are the premises true or false?
  3. Does the argument or syllogism follow a valid structural flow?

If an argument contains clear terms within true premises, which lead to a ‘rule-abiding’ conclusion, then we say that the argument is both valid AND true and deserving of being considered SOUND.

And a sound argument, my friends, is golden.

Let us stand our logical ground with courage and courtesy and follow the same principles ourselves!

Q: So where are you being bullied in the marketplace of ideas today?

 

 

 

 

Yeah, but what about all those Crusades and Witchburnings?

16 Dec

Crusades

When ISIS perpetrated their evil in Paris, some commentators were quick to trot out past atrocities committed by so-called Christians.

Their response is a perfect example of the fallacy known as ‘Tu Quoque’.  This Latin phrase describing the attempt to deflect the debate means, ‘You too!’

Here’s a simple example:

Uncle Jim to his nephew:  Bobby, you shouldn’t smoke, it’s bad for your health.

Bobby: Yeah, well who are you to tell me that?  Look at you, addicted to 2 packs a day!

What makes Bobby’s response inappropriate is that his observation, though true, is irrelevant to the assertion: Smoking is bad for your health.

So Uncle Jim’s best move is to acknowledge the truth of his nephew’s comment and gently move the discussion back to the topic.  It could be that since Uncle Jim seems addicted to smoking he knows first hand the effect on his body.  The fact that he himself smokes has given him living proof of what research shows.  What counts, however, are the reasons he marshals to support his conclusion.

Off topic

Back to the terrorism conversation.  Whether Christians wrongly burned women at the stake or justified murder by covering it over with the guise of a religious cause is not up for discussion.  Raising those events is a ploy to shift the topic.  Logical Joes and Janes have to practice restraint and resist the temptation to enter THAT arena.  The simplest way, again, is to acknowledge the possibility of truth in what was said, but then guide the conversation partner gently back to what’s on the table.

With practice responding to parries AND staying on topic comes more naturally.

 

 

Who are you to tell me not to smoke, you do!!

16 Aug

For years as I was raising my boys, I second guessed myself:

I would hesitate in ‘preaching’ that certain behaviors were wrong.  My faulty reasoning went like this:

“I’ll be hypocritical if I tell them…

  • Don’t smoke pot!
  • Don’t have sex before you’re married!
  • Don’t drink and drive!

…..after all, I’ve done some of these.”

I wish I had known about this logical fallacy back then!  Because whether you have smoked, drunk, or whatever, that is irrelevant to a reasoned argument NOT to do something.

This kind of silly thinking is called ‘Tu Quoque’ (too kwo-kway) which means ‘you, too!’

Imagine the following conversation:   

Chain-smoking Uncle Albert –Bobby, what are you doing smoking a cigarette!  Don’t you know you can get lung cancer that way?

12-year-old Bobby:  Who are YOU to tell me not to smoke?!  You can’t go an hour without lighting up!

Uncle Albert:  That’s right!  And I don’t want you to suffer like I have.  I wish someone had told me how addicting smoking was and the impact it would have on my life!  I can’t even climb a flight of stairs now without having to stop and catch my breath.  Do you want to end up like me?

Bobby –But that’s hypocritical to tell me one thing and not do it yourself!

Uncle Albert –No, it’s not hypocritical.  If I CLAIMED not to smoke and lectured you about the dangers of smoking, and then you caught me smoking, then I would be two-faced. But I’m giving you good reasons why smoking is bad for you.

Bobby – Hm, you’ve got a point.  Alright, I won’t  smoke any more.  Just don’t tell Mom, okay?

Here’s what thoughtful reasoning does.  It makes an assertion and then backs it up with reasons.  The personal habits of the one making the claim have no bearing on the case.  In fact, having experienced some nasty consequences for engaging in dangerous behavior might make the case even more compelling, but on an emotional level.  We’ll leave that to the rhetoricians and stick to reasonable, thought-out positions.

Here is a sample argument supported by reasons:

Premise 1   Practices that are harmful to your health are actions that should be avoided

Premise 2   Smoking cigarettes is a practice that is harmful to your health

Conclusion  Tf, smoking cigarettes is an action that should be avoided.

So – go ahead and share your hard-earned wisdom!  And if someone objects, tell them that it is a fallacy to say that you can’t give advice regarding something that still has you in its grip!