This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Rational Dialogue and Ridicule
One rational dialogue begins, there are rules that have to be followed, like the principle of charity. You can do ridicule, or you can do rational dialogue. You just can't mix them, without breaking the rules.
Of course, our sense of what is ridiculous is largely determined by our views. Thus, what seems absurd to an atheist might seem perfectly sensible to a theist, and vice versa.
Of course, one of the techniques of rational discourse is reductio ad absurdum. Unfortunately, other than the law of non-contradiction, there isn't any way to distinguish between the genuinely absurd and that which is merely counterintuitive. Many people consider it to be a reductio against utilitarianism that it results in the possible conclusion that we should under some circumstances, frame and execute an innocent person to prevent deaths as a result or rioting. J. J. C. Smart, however, simply accepted this implication of utilitarianism, hence the term "outsmart" in the Philosopher's Lexicon:
outsmart, v. To embrace the conclusion of one's opponent's reductio ad absurdum argument. "They thought they had me, but I outsmarted them. I agreed that it was sometimes just to hang an innocent man."