Monday, May 18, 2015

The argument against ridicule

Loftus completely ignores my argument for what I said, which has to do with the principle of charity. An argument for something, if it is done right, does the best it can to state the other side's position as fairly as possible, and to even to make a better case for the opposing view than even its advocates make before launching the attack against it.
The Principle of Charity is a methodological presumption made in seeking to understand a point of view whereby we seek to understand that view in its strongest, most persuasive form before subjecting the view to evaluation.
http://philosophy.lander.edu/o...
Ridicule, on the other hand, seeks to present the opposing view in the most negative light possible before attacking it. How can you be charitable and ridicule at the same time?

10 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, good effective ridicule is based on the CONCLUSIONS (not the reasoning) of the person whose idea is being ridiculed. If one is not ridiculing an idea than people hold to then what is there to laugh at? So the principle of charity can and does indeed apply. One must ridicule a belief that someone actually has for it to be funny.

For more on the effectiveness of ridicule see what you think of this by Keith Parsons your friend,along with the use of ridicule by none other than Bertrand Russell.

Cheers

John W. Loftus said...

Sorry about this additional link, but see this quote of the day on ridicule.

You want a reasoned discussion. I'm giving it to you.

B. Prokop said...

John

Let's see what you consider to be a good example of ridicule. If the principle is defensible, it ought to hold up under examination.

The two links you provided are defenses of ridicule, but not ridicule in action. (Unless you include the reference to Russell's teapot. Unfortunately for your case, that example is so easily counter-ridiculed that it's actually an argument against ridicule's effectiveness, since it makes the person using it look stupid.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

This set of rules explains why Keith will ridicule hard-core fundamentalisms but not religious belief in general, or anyone attempting to produce good arguments, even if you think very poorly of those arguments. I think Dawkins would disagree with him. There is a natural human tendency to expand the class of people who you target with ridicule in order to not have to deal with inconvenient arguments. Who counts as a "creationist" is a highly debatable issue, for example. Just because young earth creationists do say silly things doesn't mean that every critic of naturalistic evolution deserves ridicule.

So I think Parsons is closer to me than he is to you. I think he agrees that wherever you have to employ the principle of charity, ridicule is out of place. If someone just looks ridiculous just by quotation, and if there isn't a charitable interpretation of their statement available, then I don't see the problem. If someone is going to come back and say that you don't understand their position, then continuing the ridicule is misplaced.

And what is ridiculous to some is not ridiculous to others. It is always open to the one ridiculed to say, "No, that's not ridiculous, it's true and reasonable." It's called outsmarting your opponent:

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."

I suppose even if you showed that a person held contradictory positions, they could come back and appeal to paraconsistent logic.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

My thoughts:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2015/05/19/how-and-when-should-you-use-ridicule-if-at-all-it-depends-on-your-goals/

Crude said...

This set of rules explains why Keith will ridicule hard-core fundamentalisms but not religious belief in general, or anyone attempting to produce good arguments, even if you think very poorly of those arguments.

So, Dawkins classifies God belief on a scale of 1 to 7 - with 1 being 'total certainty God exists', I believe, and 7 being 'total certainty God doesn't exist'.

Shall we say that anyone from 1 to 2, or from 7 to 6, are fair game, as they would be the 'hardcore fundamentalists'?

Think carefully, ladies and gentlemen.

cl said...

There's nothing wrong with ridicule per se, for example, if somebody were to advocate public littering - something we all know factually to be harmful - then yeah, let's tease them. The problem with Loftus / Gnu style ridicule is twofold: the ridicule is a substitute for a cogency, as opposed to a technique employed after cogency. The other problem is the incredible intellectual arrogance:

Hey Vic, what exactly is wrong with doing everything I can to disabuse Christians of their faith when I know that 1) their faith is terribly wrong, and 2) their faith is harmful for our future? -The Loftus

Note in particular the use of the word "know" ... John claims to know that which he does not know, thus violating the bedrock principles of the same critical thinking he boisterously clamors for elsewhere.

Reading Loftus makes reasonable people want to puke. His whole career is built on a sham of sloppy arguments and basically just being a jerk to people because he thinks he has the intellectual highground.

Truly sad!

B. Prokop said...

Good catch there, cl. Wasn't it Loftus himself who said, not that long ago, that he didn't believe in anything? And yet here he is claiming he knows something that could only be a matter of belief.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Crude said...

cl,

Note in particular the use of the word "know" ... John claims to know that which he does not know, thus violating the bedrock principles of the same critical thinking he boisterously clamors for elsewhere.

I believe one of the claims on offer here is that ridicule is important to use against diehard fundamentalists because you cannot be reasoned with them. After all, they are certain that they -know the truth-, so there's no point in rational dialogue.

So it seems by John's rules, we are duty-bound to mock and ridicule John if we wish to change his mind - and we cannot rely on rational debate, because he's utterly convinced and certain he holds The Truth.

IlĂ­on said...

You know, one would think that a Lewis scholar would by now have recognied that my "three, and only three" decision-tree is the general form or which Lewis' famous (or infamous, to hear 'atheists' and many "liberal" "Christians" tell it) trilemma is the sprecific application