I’m keeping this post to link to from any argument space that I control, like my Facebook wall. I prefer to argue in an objective mode, even if the subject is religion, aesthetics, or politics. I wholly reject the proposition that all categorical statements are political.
This is what I expect from all participants:
1. Do not use logical fallacies, which includes argument against identity, explicit or coded in buzzwords like “mansplain” or “femsplain.” Instead of calling someone out on an obscure fallacy, say “that’s not an argument,” and only elaborate if necessary. (Nod to Jack Raynard on this latter idea.)
2. Do not explicitly infer the other person’s viewpoint. It’s irrelevant. As a procedural necessity, everyone must be treated as an authority over their own experience.
3. If the argument gets heated, have each person summarize the other’s point and gain their acceptance of the interpretation before moving on.
4. If you are asked if you are arguing from a certain premise, give an unequivocal answer, no prevaricating with “It’s more complicated than that” if the question must have a yes-or-no answer. You can qualify your position, but at some point, you must also commit to a premise in order to argue at all.
5. Don’t indulge in sarcasm when countering someone’s points.
In a recent Facebook thread on identity politics, I made the following contribution, with some redaction here.
I see a dozen online memes an hour speaking to Trump’s “misogyny” and “racism.” These terms have suffered scope creep. They no longer refer to an avowed attitude of racial or gender superiority. Now they apply to people’s actions. So why shouldn’t they? After all, if someone uses racist language or targets a minority group for discrimination or exploitation, they probably hold racist attitudes; if a man takes sexual liberties with a woman, he probably holds women in contempt. Anyone who objects to judging people to be racist or sexist based on their actions is probably racist or sexist themselves. Continue reading
Tony Daniel at Baen commissioned this article from me. I’d been thinking about the role of self-deception in both creating and appreciating stories.
The Precambrian Conspiracy is either my public-domain project or the real state of affairs. In either case, feel free to set stories in this universe. Ideas are cheap and this is no exception. However, I ask that you give me or other contributors attribution for ideas you crib — you can just reference this blog if you’re in doubt. Thanks. I will update this glossary from time to time. Feel free to contribute to it in the comments. Continue reading
I’ve recently introduced my young nephews to D&D, and that inspired me to write a how-to series, which Loren Rosson III has been hosting on his excellent blog The Busybody. I’m gratified and humbled he’s supported the project. I started playing D&D in 1980, and a few years ago, I became interested in really figuring out what makes it work — that is, when it does. In 2014, I wrote a long essay for Baen Books that covers the history of D&D and indulges in some general theorizing, but I wanted to write a more practical guide on the topic. I got my nephews up and playing and having fun within an hour by explaining to them the core trappings of the game, which I cover in article one, and then adopting a viewpoint that I now outline in article two. I will probably write a third and final article that puts everything together, describing the adventure I wrote and ran for my nephews and how I employed my own advice to keep things moving.
After this post, I hope to leave off religion and politics for a while. I’m a liberal and liberal apologist but also a philosophical conservative, meaning I’m more into Adam Smith than Karl Marx, more into Plato and Lao Tzu than Nietzsche. But don’t let me do your homework, please. Read widely.
I’m bugged by the logical fallacies and dissembling self-described liberals engage in. When we stray from logic and the facts, we give our opponents ammunition, end up being unfair, and generally sabotage the whole project of making the world better.