Rick Perry tried the old tu quoque with the Texas state Senator and abortion rights defender Wendy Davis the other day. (Reported here at SALON.) Davis, as it turns out, hasn’t had an abortion. Even when she, like, could have.
… she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example ….
First, one can support abortion rights and still not have one. Second, if Perry is trying to make the point that having children isn’t all that disruptive of a life by pointing to one woman who made it through law school with a child… The answer is that at least she chose that option. That makes a big difference.
It’s slippery slope week at the NS. Here’s a humorous slope argument at The Onion.
Condemning the decision as “dangerously reasonable” and “beyond level-headed,” vocal opponents of same-sex marriage strongly cautioned that this morning’s Supreme Court rulings supporting gay rights could put the United States on a one-way, slippery slope to rationality.
Ha! Well, you know, the acceptability of a slippery slope argument depends on how likely the consequent is made by the antecedent. Not seeing that, really. There are lots of bumps on that staircase. Mostly comprised by the voting decisions of the denizens of Texas, Utah, Alabama, and so on.
Here’s a snippet from Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent on yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage:
When the Court declared a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy, we were assured that the case had nothing, nothing at all to do with “whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Id., at 578. Now we are told that DOMA is invalid because it “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects,” ante, at 23—with an accompanying citation of Lawrence. It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress’s hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will “confine” the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.
Justice Scalia may indeed be correct about the alleged inconsistency; The court may have previously held that Lawrence v Texas wouldn’t entail gay marriage, but then in Windsor they use the legality of “homosexual sodomy” to justify not discriminating against gay marriages. This, he maintains, shows the slippery slope from “homosexual sodomy” to gay marriage.
A few points. First, since I’m not a legal scholar, I don’t know if the court has to maintain its promises–or whether the court can make promises like this. The gay marriage case wasn’t before the court at the time, and, as far as I know, the court decides only the cases it has before it. It would seem completely wrong for them to adjudicate such things in advance.
Second, inconsistencies are not ipso facto signs of dishonesty. I like to think my current correct views are inconsistent with my past incorrect ones. I also sincerely hope that my future correct views are inconsistent with my current incorrect ones.
Third, not all slippery slopes are fallacious. The court has recognized a right to “homosexual sodomy.” This means that homosexual relationships are not inherently inferior to heterosexual ones. This does in fact seem to entail that homosexual commitments differ in the same regard: i.e., not at all.
Huffpo’s got a nice review of how “the haters” are “freaking out” about DOMA being struck down by the Supreme Court. Got a nice shot of a tweet from Bryan Fisher, from the American Family Association, with the classic slippery slope on homosexuality.
The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time.
Do you like slippery on your slope? Inevitable. Of course, the fact that two of these four involve entities that can’t give consent doesn’t prevent Fisher from lumping them all together.
Some slippery slopes are valid; some are not. For a slippery slope to work, the consequences have to be very likely. In fallacious slippery slopes, on the other hand, the consequences are merely scary.
Here’s Ken Cuccinelli with a fallacious slippery slope:
Once the natural limits that inhere in the relationship between a man and a woman can no longer sustain the definition of marriage, the conclusion that follows is that any grouping of adults would have an equal claim to marriage. See, e.g. , Jonathan Turley, One Big, Happy Polygamous Family , NY Times, July 21, 2011, at A27 (“[Polygamists] want to be allowed to create a loving family according to the values of their faith.”).”
Polygamy, or what some call “Traditional Marriage” has already existed as a non-consequence of gay marriage. This means that polygamy is not a stage along the gay permissiveness continuum.
More importantly, polygamy, whatever it might mean, is significantly different from dual marriage (is that a term?). The legal relationships are undefined and it does not exist. Marriage between non-child-producing couples already exists, and differs in no respect from gay marriage–except, perhaps, that gay marriages can result in natural children.
So let’s drop the polygamy business. Yes, maybe it is scary and weird to you. But remember, polygamy is what the Bible sometimes advocates (along with concubines!) and, more significantly, it’s got little to do with the rights of two unrelated people.
Let’s try to be more rigorous and more imaginative. Perhaps Ken Cuccinelli ought to remember that when he opens his mouth to argue, he sets an example for the kids out there. This is a terrible example.
By nearly any measure–ok, probably by every measure, CEO pay is vastly disproportionate to the pay of the average worker. Here’s one example (via Bloomberg):
Former fashion jewelry saleswoman Rebecca Gonzales and former Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson have one thing in common: J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) no longer employs either.
The similarity ends there. Johnson, 54, got a compensation package worth 1,795 times the average wage and benefits of a U.S. department store worker when he was hired in November 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gonzales’s hourly wage was $8.30 that year.
Read the rest of the article (charts and all). In light of this and similar facts, Congress tried to work up something. Since Congress mostly sucks at lawmaking, they passed a rule that companies need at least to disclose the ratio.
This rule was not long for the world, as the House Financial Services Committee has just voted to repeal that mandate. One member, Jeb Hensarling, reasoned thusly:
Today, joked House Financial Services chair Jeb Hensarling from Texas, CEO-worker pay disclosure, tomorrow a mandate that companies calculate the ratio of office supplies they get from national big box retailers to the goods they get from locals — or the ratio of healthy to unhealthy drinks in company soda machines.
Here’s a great downplayer for the worry about global warming. At AmSpec Shawn Macomber interviews two professors at King’s College (New York), C. David Corbin and Matt Parks. In making a contrast between the ‘blind spots’ of two generations, they have a unique way of describing what we’re worried about with the warming trend:
Still, every generation has its blind spots: in our college days twenty years ago we all wanted to save the whales; today they’re afraid global warming might give them a little too much ocean to swim in.
Yes. Well, we’re not worried about where we’ll swim when we are worried about global warming. The point of the contrast is not to make a substantive claim, of course. Instead, it’s more like a gesture that says: Fuck substantive claims about global warming. I don’t care at all. BLAH BLAH BLAH.
The tu quoque argument is the argument from hypocrisy or inconsistency: S says that p, or that we should do a, but then turns around and says not-p or fails to do a. It’s usually not clear what the consequences of the tu quoque are – either evidence of insincerity, evidence that the proposal is too difficult to follow, or that the person can’t keep his story straight. We’ve at the NS had a variety of discussions about tu quoque, ranging from conditions for its acceptability to the breadth of its form. Our best discussion was started by Colin with his observation that sometimes, tu quque arguments needn’t be in the form of actual hypocrisy, but rather hypothetical hypocrisy. Hence, subjunctive tu quoque. (See Colin’s post HERE) I’ve found a close cousin to the not-actual-but-hypothetically-relevant form for tu quoque. It’s the predictive tu quoque.
Witness Jonah Goldberg’s recent posting at NRO. He says: young voters have supported Obama and his policies overwhelmingly. But now that the Affordable Care Act is starting to be implemented, they will be required to buy health insurance — at rates greater than they would have to on other systems. That’s because they are keeping the larger system afloat, as they are supporting the old, sick, and dying. He predicts that they will then bolt on the issue. First, he presents the dilemma.
You’d insist that millennials are not only informed, but eager to make sacrifices for the greater good. Well, here’s your chance to prove it: Fork over whatever it costs to buy the best health insurance you can under Obamacare.
Then he sarcastically presents the decision:
[S]ince the fine for not signing up is so much lower than premiums, lots of people will just wait until they’re sick before buying insurance.
Now, that might be the smart play — for cynics.
But you’re not cynical. You didn’t vote for Obama and cheer the passage of Obamacare because it was the cool thing to do. You did your homework. You want to share the sacrifice. You want to secure the president’s legacy.
And now’s your chance to prove it.
I think it would be best for these lines to be read out loud. When he says “But you’re not cynical,” it has to be delivered with that special tone of voice one has when one’s caught another in a reductio. He’s not being hortatory – as though he’s saying: I predict that you will not be cynics. No, he’s saying: I expect you to be cynics, as you’ve been cynics all along… because your votes were bought by Obama’s policies regarding student loans and extended coverage under parental health care. Now that you have to bear the burden, you’ll resent it.
There are many areas where intolerance against Christians can clearly be seen, but two stand out as being particularly relevant at present.
The first is intolerance against Christian speech. In recent years there has been a significant increase in incidents involving Christians who have been arrested and even prosecuted, for speaking on Christian issues. Religious leaders are threatened with police action after preaching about sinful behaviour and some are even sentenced to prison for preaching on the biblical teaching against sexual immorality. Even private conversations between citizens, including expression of opinions on social network, can become the grounds of a criminal complaint, or at least intolerance, in many European countries.
If only Samantha Bee could have interviewed this guy.
John Oliver’s doing a bang-up job on the Daily Show, and he’s implemented the don’t feed the trolls policy with Sarah Palin. Salon’s got a brief discussion HERE.
One question about iron-manning is whether even addressing the argument given is appropriate. That is, how John and I have been working with the Iron Man has been to take the fallacy as interpreting the opponent’s argument in the best possible light and addressing that version. But sometimes, we can iron man when we just spend any time at all on an argument. That is, if Iron Man is fallacious because of (a) the waste of time and energy on an opponent’s argument, and (b) thereby giving them more intellectual credit than they deserve, then the improvement of the argument isn’t the core of the fallacy. Rather, it’s in the misuse of dialectical resources on a dumb argument.