To Be Obtuse

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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28 October 2018 10:18
 

How good do you think you are at identifying the fallacious or otherwise unreasonable rationalizations of other people?

Do you catch yourself making mistakes of reasoning and emphasis as often as you catch others?

Do you sometimes conflate bad reasons with reasons that are merely contrary?

I ask because I know that I’ve failed in this regard. I will catch myself judging someone as being prejudiced or narrow when, in actuality they simply had a different array of values. Their case was perfectly viable in terms of facts and logic. They just wanted different outcomes.

 
EN
 
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EN
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28 October 2018 17:49
 

Fair.
Yes.
Yes.

Values and taste trump reason in making major decisions.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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29 October 2018 05:56
 
Brick Bungalow - 28 October 2018 10:18 AM

How good do you think you are at identifying the fallacious or otherwise unreasonable rationalizations of other people?

Do you catch yourself making mistakes of reasoning and emphasis as often as you catch others?

Do you sometimes conflate bad reasons with reasons that are merely contrary?

Quite good at the first, both the logical and the psychological ones.

I don’t catch any systemic biases as systemic (for their whole function is to be unconscious), but I do catch myself having made mistakes in reasoning, almost certainly more often in myself than in others.  I make them all the time until I finally reach a settled thought, which eventually may itself end up being a mistake (many have).

Not sure what you are asking with the last one.  If you mean a tendency to be a contrarian, even if that lands one onto a bad reason, not really.  I get my bad reasons through other means.  If you mean calling a reason bad because I have a contrary one, not really again, for when there is an incongruence between reasons that I can’t explain or reconcile intuitively, I find it most efficient (and even psychologically inevitable) to put both reasons in suspense as probable—as candidates for acceptance, as it were; then I examine them both for any underlying reconciliation or source of error in either.  If I did the latter conflation, logically I would learn nothing.  If I did the former, I’d be mistaken for bad reasons more often than I am.

I ask because I know that I’ve failed in this regard. I will catch myself judging someone as being prejudiced or narrow when, in actuality they simply had a different array of values. Their case was perfectly viable in terms of facts and logic. They just wanted different outcomes.

Yes, this is always a danger in political discussion, for sure; the only reason I am not that prone to it is I am not that prone to political discussion (in fact, I avoid it more often than not for this very reason).  Philosophy is arguably a good arena where this tendency is on display even more than in politics—at least more deeply, as it were.  No one is worse at getting right the validity of the reasoning of one philosopher than another philosopher, even as the opposite is ostensibly the calling of the field.  Why I thrive in an arena even worse than politics for the mis-identification of reasons is beyond me.  Maybe it’s because in philosophy the stakes aren’t just lower but non-existent.  Also, in philosophy there is nothing wrong with thinking everyone is right in their own way, within their own limits; that all the great minds contribute to greater understanding after some fashion. 

Politics, by contrast, seems more like a war to the death, what with identity and social policies at stake.

[ Edited: 29 October 2018 06:24 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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31 October 2018 12:37
 

There is an idea that is expressed a few different ways in fields like philosophy, sociology, political science, ethics and so forth that the merit of rhetoric can stand apart from ideology. At least provisionally. For the sake of dialogue and dialectic and the kind of conversational tools that can de escalate hostility. A spectrum of ideas can and should be considered on an even field for the sake of context and understanding. Differing value judgments should be recognized as having common if not equal value. Each persons experience is of infinite moral worth and so each persons array preferences has at least some substantive purchase on the larger conversation.

I think this is a good idea if it’s held in the proper context. I think it’s good to extend conversational charity to everyone. I think it’s good to uphold the cognitive and practical liberty of everyone within some common sense constraints.

Sometimes this idea is mis applied though. In my opinion. Sometimes the idea of equal time and equal consideration gets conflated to suggest that all ideology and all rhetoric is some equally valid or should command equal respect. This is where a pragmatic approach to conversation turns on its heel and heads toward a kind of nihilism.

To bring it around to the original OP I feel like its necessary to make a robust distinction between differences that are ideological or moral and those that are a matter of logic or procedure EVEN THOUGH this isn’t fully separable. Even though things like rules of order and logical consistency and conversational charity are themselves ultimately value driven.

 
EN
 
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31 October 2018 18:34
 

Not so sure that all value judgments are created equal.  The consequences need to be considered. While there is no objective standard, some ideas and values just lead to bad stuff. I’m not going to put the values of Nazis on the same level as people who believe in equality for all.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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31 October 2018 22:11
 
EN - 31 October 2018 06:34 PM

Not so sure that all value judgments are created equal.  The consequences need to be considered. While there is no objective standard, some ideas and values just lead to bad stuff. I’m not going to put the values of Nazis on the same level as people who believe in equality for all.

This is what I’m struggling to express. They are definitely not equal. I think we hold them as provisionally equal as a sort of exercise. Giving them their day in court as it were. If our values are important, if morality is important at all than some values are better than other values. I think this must be held as axiomatically true unless someone concedes to fatalism.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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02 November 2018 15:26
 

To bring it around to the original OP I feel like it’s necessary to make a robust distinction between differences that are ideological or moral and those that are a matter of logic or procedure EVEN THOUGH this isn’t fully separable.  Even though things like rules of order and logical consistency and conversational charity are themselves ultimately value driven.

I have heard this several times; Harris even grants it—that logical, conceptual, and procedural consistency are value-driven.  They are certainly valued, but in the development of conceptual implications as a means to solve problems or obtain knowledge, logical consistency is no more value driven for being valued than the routine operation of a machine is value-driven for being valued.  Absent logical and conceptual consistency in the use of prior knowledge to formulate and solve a problem, the problem will not be solved—at least, it won’t be solved through intelligent direction, only chance.  So no, I don’t agree with part of your dilemma here: logical and conceptual consistency are instrumental to the process of acquiring knowledge and solving problems that are valued for that reason.  But the source of that value is functional and instrumental, i.e. as real as the moving parts of any machine. 

I don’t have a way to tease out the logic of the pragmatic argument you are making (one, I agree with, by the way).  But I don’t agree with one horn of the dilemma you propose, if I am reading it right.  I think ideological and moral versus logical and procedural are fully separable.  It’s just that this gets obscured because the morally driven ideologues value logic and procedure as much as anyone else, and that some semblance of logic and procedure are (probably) necessary features of even ideological solutions to problems.

Without being able to put my finger on exactly how right now, I would think that ideological formulations and solutions to problems will differentiate themselves through disproportionate success rates in solving them; that something like real logical and conceptual consistency in the application of background knowledge will emerge from pseudo—read inept—logical and conceptual consistency.  But this is the germ of an idea, not something I’ve really worked out.  In a nutshell, as long as consequences are the measure—read outcomes and bona-fide solutions—some way of at least retroactively differentiating the means (ideological versus logical) should come to the fore, meaning something intrinsic to their operations should distinguish their differential success rate.  In other words, some means of distinguishing the means will be evident from their differential success. 

(I think a similar functional argument could be made for “conversational charity,” once mapped onto the scientific problem of weighing evidence absent apriori knowledge of antecedent realty, the very thing one supposes the evidence to be evidence of.  Absent knowing in advance which evidence will ultimately be dispositive, it is functionally necessary to weigh it all and try the suppositions it supposes—again, with tested outcomes driving the differences in its eventual assigned weight.  “Conversational charity” may be valued because it is functionally necessary, not considered necessary because it is so valued).

 

[ Edited: 02 November 2018 15:31 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
icehorse
 
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03 November 2018 08:40
 

To the OP: I know I make mistakes in debates because of my biases. I also believe that everyone does. I think the best we can do is be aware of the issue, and do our best to reduce the errors.

On values: I find that bringing the question of values into debates is really powerful. I also believe some values are “better” than others, although I understand that moral relativists can scuttle any discussions of “better” or “worse”. We’ve talked many times about whether morality can be objective. While it’s extremely hard to prove it, i believe morality can be “objective” for most practical purposes (hence the acronym WBCC). (As a side note, most human expertise cannot be accurately explained, so our inability to defend object morality verbally doesn’t cause me much concern. And I understand that this is a self serving justification smile  )

TAP - I agree with Harris that skills like using logic and reasoning are ultimately value based. Harris lists things that scientists and critical thinkers value:

- logic
- evidence
- the joy of discovery
- parsimony

Perhaps a few more. I know I place an extremely high value on these things. I believe they are essential to well being. But at the same time I agree that others might not value these things, and that it’s possible to live life without valuing them or using them very much. It’s not my style, but many such people do exist.

One example of using value comparisons that springs to mind, is that I think secularists value the individual and that Islam teaches Muslims to value the tribe. This difference in core values is the source of many of the conflicts between the two groups. I think that understanding this difference in core values is an extremely useful tool.

[ Edited: 03 November 2018 08:43 by icehorse]
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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04 November 2018 06:35
 

icehorse - 03 November 2018 08:40 AM

I agree with Harris that skills like using logic and reasoning are ultimately value based.

What does that mean?  That one values the skills when one uses them (certainly true, basically by stipulation), or that the need or efficacy of the skill is based in one’s evaluation (certainly false).

I’ll repeat what I suggested to Brick Bungalow: logical and conceptual consistency in reasoning are not ultimately value based simply because they are valued, any more than the operations of a machine are ultimately value based simply because those operations are valued for the outputs they produce.  Logical and conceptual consistency are instrumentally necessary to producing knowledge and solving problems using pre-existing, established knowledge.  We value them for that reason, meaning their independent necessity and validity doesn’t depend on that valuation.  Now, one might value solving problems and gaining knowledge, as virtually everyone does.  But that does not mean the necessary means to that valued end are “ultimately value based.”  It only means that we value them because of the independently necessary basis for achieving what we value.

By contrast, for instance, my love of good food is ultimately value-based, but eating food as such to survive is not.  Similarly, my love of logical and conceptual consistency is ultimately value-based, but the need for it in gaining knowledge and solving problems is not.  And so forth.  This “ultimately valued-based” as though it doesn’t have some kind of independent validity or necessity outside of a context of evaluation it is simply an error.  Even if one doesn’t really value solving a problem, or even if one doesn’t really value gaining knowledge, logical and conceptual consistency in either remains necessary for anyone who uses established knowledge to achieve those ends.  Since this is true, nothing is gained or clarified by saying either are “ultimately value based.” But a lot is obscured.

 

[ Edited: 04 November 2018 06:45 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
icehorse
 
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04 November 2018 07:05
 

TAP:

Logical and conceptual consistency are instrumentally necessary to producing knowledge and solving problems using pre-existing, established knowledge.

This is true for you and me. But it’s a fairly recent worldview, and it’s not held universally. E.g., think of the hundreds of millions of people who believe in transubstantiation.

In other words, not everyone values logical and conceptual consistency, and one can stumble through life without them. When we argue to keep “creation science” out of our public schools, it’s because we hold those scientific values dear, but clearly not everyone does.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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04 November 2018 07:13
 

That doesn’t discount T’s point in the least, icehorse.

 
 
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04 November 2018 07:19
 
nonverbal - 04 November 2018 07:13 AM

That doesn’t discount T’s point in the least, icehorse.

I thought it did. Can you rephrase TAP’s point?

 
 
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10 January 2019 06:24
 
Brick Bungalow - 31 October 2018 12:37 PM

Even though things like rules of order and logical consistency and conversational charity are themselves ultimately value driven.

Here are the main senses for the word “value”, excluding those in mathematics, the arts, etc.

Value
n
1. the desirability of a thing, often in respect of some property such as usefulness or exchangeability; worth, merit, or importance
2. an amount, esp a material or monetary one, considered to be a fair exchange in return for a thing; assigned valuation: the value of the picture is £10 000.
3. reasonable or equivalent return; satisfaction: value for money.
4. precise meaning or significance
5. (plural) the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group: a person with old-fashioned values.

And I don’t see anything in there that helps me understand your use of the word.
So, I’d like you to explain exactly what you mean by “logical consistency” being “value driven”, if at all possible.
As I understand it, this is putting logic on a part with our view on equality between human beings for example, or more generally on what exactly you accept as a human right.
Thanks.
EB

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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10 January 2019 08:50
 
icehorse - 04 November 2018 07:05 AM

TAP:

Logical and conceptual consistency are instrumentally necessary to producing knowledge and solving problems using pre-existing, established knowledge.

This is true for you and me. But it’s a fairly recent worldview, and it’s not held universally. E.g., think of the hundreds of millions of people who believe in transubstantiation.

In other words, not everyone values logical and conceptual consistency, and one can stumble through life without them. When we argue to keep “creation science” out of our public schools, it’s because we hold those scientific values dear, but clearly not everyone does.

I think it is true even such cases where people don’t acknowledge it as true. There are many communities where oral traditions and mythology and folk wisdom are held in higher esteem than scientific methods. Of course. Even so, when practical solutions are arrived at as they must be for survival they don’t, I would argue issue from the folk wisdom. They can’t. Pro active solutions require the integration of new information. These communities are utilizing the rudiments of science even though they don’t admit it or maybe don’t even know it.