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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake 

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,563
In Reply To
Trent Trueheart

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 1,176
Subj: No it's in a way simpler than that.  It's easy to mistake a straw man.
Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2022 at 02:21:30 pm EDT (Viewed 174 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Yes it is.
Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2022 at 01:59:36 pm EDT (Viewed 189 times)

Previous Post

To me, it looks like you're saying "your argument is whatever I say it is."  I don't think you're actually interested in having a conversation with people, you want to have a debate about liberalism, or liberals, or Democrats, or with the authors you've read and whoever responds to you is just a stand in for that.  How they respond to you is basically irrelevant, which doesn't seem fair to those willing to have a conversation with you.  And to say "it's doesn't matter if I'm rude because you're rude to Trump supporters" is just asinine.  I think zvelf and bd2999 are at least open to hearing what you have to say, but if you just want to act like a dick and believe you're superior, what's the point in having the conversation?

It isn't that I'm saying your argument is "whatever I say it is."  It's that there's a sort of spectrum with contextual things like a straw man.  A tension that exists between the participants of the argument.   The idea of a straw man is about representing your opponent's argument inaccurately, arguing instead against a weaker, distorted, or all together different position than the one your opponent holds.  But the problem is not in defining a straw man; it's in identifying them when they happen.   That's sort of the difficulty with informal fallacies (as opposed to formal ones).  They're often contextual.  There isn't some objective formula for determining whether or not a summarized version of a complicated argument fully capture the content. 

The idea that a person who's making the argument is in the best position to determine if the opponent is employing a strawman is specious.   So as to the spectrum, of course you have people who make flagrant straw men, but on the other hand you also have flagrant accusations of straw-man-ing, and this can also be an illicit tactic as well.   The notion that a person always has to cosign your summary of their argument or it's a straw man isn't itself a fair standard.  People will often suggest any time you don't reproduce their argument totally generously or by using words that don't adhere to certain connotations (just a couple of examples there) that you're committed a straw man, but of course that's not necessarily true.    There are also out and out examples of common accusation of straw-man-ing (as you'll see if you look back in this thread) where someone mistakes a straw man with attributing to someone's argument certain implications or presuppositions that they don't agree with.  That's not itself a strawman.    I'll give you example:

Person (1):  "I believe a woman doesn't have a right to choose to have an abortion."

Person (2): "That means you don't respect woman."

Person (1): " That's a straw man!  That's not what I'm saying!  You're putting words in my mouth!"

The above example isn't a straw man though.  (2) isn't claiming that (1)'s claim is that women aren't worthy of respect.  (2) is claiming (1)'s claim is predicated on the notion or otherwise implies it. (2) might go on to say, "I'm not saying you SAID you have no respect for women.  I'm saying you'd have to have no respect for women to have said what you've said."  Again, this isn't straw-man-ing.   But you'll see this kind of thing a lot.  It's easy to mistake someone misrepresenting your argument (which is generally illicit) with disagreeing with you about your argument's implications or presuppositions (which is generally unavoidable in an argument.)

As to what's happening here, my point wasn't that it's okay to be rude with a person if others are rude.  My point was that when you find a person's political ideas objectionable, it's impossible to accurately express that without being POTENTIALLY mistaken for condescending, rude, or insulting.   If I find something misinformed, objectionable, ludicrous, silly, etc. I'm going to say so.   I hope I've made clear I'm responding to those ideas as silly, ludicrous, etc. and not the person.  But no one here is entitled to their ideas being met with respect, and you can't equate being insulted with having your ideas insulted.  Well... you CAN, but I'd fundamentally disagree the two should be collapsed.

The MAGA comparison and how many of you liberals on the board feel about it isn't distinct from what I'm doing.  I'm not saying YOUR regard for MAGA is inappropriate.   I think it's inevitable.  You think THOSE ideas seems preposterous and dangerous and so on and you describe them accordingly.   I'm saying you're in precisely the position to relate to me in this way, because my feelings about liberalism mirrors (I gather) how you feel about the political thoughts and prejudices that under pin MAGAism.  I have a similar kind of contempt, resentment, general appraisal for liberalism as you do for Trumpian conservatism  (ditto btw.)  I know I'm repeating myself a lot here, but that's intentional.  I'm saying fair is fair, and because I imagine you're not asking for special treatment, then the only thing that separates our behavior is who or what it's directed towards.

Furthermore, I should say, I don't think I'm superior; I just think I'm right.   I'm open to hearing what zvelf and bd2999 have to say as well, but we have very different political philosophies.  It shouldn't be surprising that when the rubber meets the road we're going to disagree.  And I say this not to be crappy, but to be just plain and factual about it, I'm generally already pretty familiar with most of their arguments... because they usually are pretty commensurate with conventional liberal thought, which is the center that most political thought orbits.  If you're on the left, by definition you can't but be familiar with this stuff.   That's not an insult.  I'm just saying we're not reinventing the wheel here.  And to that end if they're familiar with MY arguments, bully for them.  It saves time.   If it seems like I'm not hearing them out, it's because I already heard them out when I read the editorial page of the New York Times or watched a run down of MSNBC or CNN's weekly coverage.

---the late great Donald Blake 

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