I posted a while back about the ad baculum argument. Roughly, “you hold p, but p, is false, and if you don’t agree I will punch you in the nose.” The typical account is that the nose-punching is irrelevant to the truth of p, so the ad baculum in this version is a fallacy. Â Put another way: the punching, shooting, or threatening are not epistemic reasons for p, though they may be pragmatic ones. Whether pragmatic reasons can bring about belief is another question.
A standard objection to the existence of the ad baculumÂ is that this just never really happens this way, and there are all sorts of more subtle things at work–such as consequences of one’s commitments, tests of hypocrisy, and so on. I think there’s a lot of truth to this (though I think there’s much to be said for the ad baculum). One bit of evidence in favor of the deflationary view is that it’s just hard to come up with plausible sounding examples. They all sound so contrived.
Until now. Here is Blake Farenthold, Republican Congressman from Texas (via TPM)
â€œThe fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me. â€¦ Some of the people that are opposed to this, theyâ€™re some female senators from the Northeast,â€ he said, likely referring to Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, who has been vocal about her opposition to each of the Senateâ€™s health plans from the start. She said over the weekend that sheâ€™s opposed to the delayed repeal bill.Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) have also been clear about their opposition to various versions of the Republican health care plan.
Farenthold suggested if it were a man from his state blocking the repeal bill, he might ask him to â€œstep outside and settle this Aaron Burr style,â€ he said, referencing the famed gun duel between the former vice president and Alexander Hamilton, a former secretary of the Treasury who had longstanding political differences. The gun fight ended in Hamiltonâ€™s death.
Man or woman, that wouldn’t settle it really–well, other than to subtract one vote either way (ok, two votes, because duels are illegal).