argument

Reflections on the Spirit of Resistance

November 22, 2012

. Paul Newman’s 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, the apex of journeyman Stuart Rosenberg’s directorial career, imbued popular culture with many iconic scenes and memorable lines. (“What we have here – is failure to communicate.” “Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”) Among the famous scenes is that of the prison camp boxing match [...]


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Not So Random Questions, Facts, & Observations about Gaza & Israel

November 17, 2012

. If forces in Mexico – drug cartels, for instance – were firing rockets and missiles into an area roughly covering 25% of the United States this is what it would look like. If the U.S. equivalent of one million Israelis were under threat of this bombardment on a daily basis, running for cover, hiding [...]


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Reason and Rationalization

October 11, 2012

. Happy day when theory can be considered in the light of immediate actual events. Let’s consider, shall we? First the theory. At The New York Times’ The Stone, philosophers Gary Gutting and Michael P. Lynch responded separately to psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s recent book, The Righteous Mind, in which Haidt argues for the primacy of [...]


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Conspiracies

October 4, 2012

. I was talking with my class the other day about the methodology of fully-developed conspiracy theories and my general skepticism toward them. The undeveloped conspiracy theory works off a form of radical skepticism. How do you know we really landed on the moon? Have you been witness to any of the reality of the [...]


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(Updated) Impenetrable: The Hollow Rhetoric of Judith Butler

September 10, 2012

. (Update) Tomorrow, September 11, 2012, the birthday of Theodor Adorno, and only chronologically coincident with the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Judith Butler is set to receive the triennial Adorno Prize, awarded by the city of Frankfurt. Resonant with the themes addressed in the commentary below, originally posted last week at the Algemeiner, is this [...]


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Pythonian Philosophy

July 29, 2012

. In the spirit both of the most recent “Drowning Child” post and our current London Olympiad, we persevere in our arguments by exploring the nature of intellectual competition. The first video I actually share with my students in the opening week of my critical thinking class. It’s a hoot and does make a point. [...]


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Is Chris Hayes Too Thoughtful for the Mediated Public Square?

May 30, 2012

. You don’t have to think of Chris Hayes as the anti-Limbaugh. (That’s most of us.) Consider him the anti Chris Matthews, his stable mate at MSNBC. Matthews drew a lot of attention the other day for his interview of Newt Gingrich, during which he did play, yes, a form of hardball, asking tough questions [...]


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Bile as Argument

January 23, 2012

. Several days ago, a late reader of my post “Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas” sent me an insulting private email. Since this is a blog with a public commenting apparatus, I am always struck when people choose to insult me privately rather than offer counter-arguments and insult in the public [...]


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How Greenwald Argues

July 30, 2011

We’ve had an interesting and now long-running thread of comments going from Rob H.’s guest post the other day, “Glenn Greenwald’s False Accusation Against The New York Times.” I’ve offered my latest contribution in the comments, the full length of which you can reach via link at the end of this post. I thought I would highlight [...]


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Reasoning Gone Off the Rails: Jerusalem’s Light Rail Project

July 6, 2011

It is, so far, impossible to run out of examples of how intellectually corrupt much contemporary thinking is on the subject of Israel-Palestine. Today, Adam Levick at CiFWatch offers a mundane municipal illustration by way of Jerusalem’s soon to be operational (in its first phase) Light Rail line. Levick tells us that the first line will [...]


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This Whole Debate Is Torture

May 11, 2011

Given that the dark matter is once again exercising its invisible pull on the national consciousness – come, let me show you something my little darlings, its right here, just around the corner, you’ll like it, a little further now – and attempting to use Osama bin Laden’s long goodbye as renewed justification for torture, [...]


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Dishonest Argument: the Social Divider

March 21, 2011

The other day I mentioned the argumentative reversal in debate, when one party makes use of the argument against it to try to turn the tables, sort of the way in Aikido, one does not directly counter the opponent, but redirects his attacking force back against him. The party implicitly accepts an argument – without [...]


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The Right’s Responsibility for the Tucson Shooting

January 27, 2011

The Washington Post provided fascinating news about Jared Lee Loughner yesterday. In the weeks and days before the shooting rampage in Tucson, suspect Jared Lee Loughner surfed the Internet on his computer in what investigators believe was an effort to prepare for his alleged assassination attempt, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said. Loughner [...]


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Evading Responsibility

January 11, 2011

Part of the thicket we have to cut through to think clearly and reasonably about political discourse and events is the near wall of entangled rationalizations and defensiveness. Self-contradiction gets separated from hypocrisy only by insight into an individual’s mind and motivations. Or as Tom Delay justified himself to the court yesterday when he evaded [...]


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Shitty Arguments

January 10, 2011

That is the technical term – shitty argument – a type of informal logical argument first identified by Aristotle in his Logic, as part of his discussion of sophistical arguments. A shitty argument may be shitty because it is a particular manifestation of “bad” – that is, so shameless that the perpetrator of it is [...]


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The (Lost) Art of Democratic Argument – A Day Trip (3)

August 13, 2010

from Eric Scheie at Classical Values, on the subject of “odious debt” from which a citizenry might be granted relief: The Cato Institute has another piece on odious debt: Most debts created by Saddam Hussein in the name of the Iraqi people would qualify as “odious” according to the international Doctrine of Odious Debts. This [...]


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The (Lost) Art of Democratic Argument – A Day Trip (2)

August 13, 2010

Yesterday at the Huffington Post, Shawn Amoei offered a post entitled “Neocon War Plans Undermine Iranians’ Quest for Democracy.” The post opened, after that already auspicious title, The “Bomb Iran” crowd, fresh off their historic blunder in Iraq, is now at it again with Iran. As if the daily drumbeat of articles and op-eds advocating [...]


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The (Lost) Art of Democratic Argument – A Day Trip (I)

August 13, 2010

The other day I posted a TED video of Harvard’s Michael Sandel on “The Lost Art of Democratic Debate,” or argument. Today, we’ll look at some random (hmn) examples of what he might have been talking about. Here is Sharron Angle, Tea Party challenger to Nevada’s, and Democratic Party Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, from [...]


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The Argument: Defense is Offensive

July 23, 2010

We know the adage: the best defense is a good offense. Generally speaking, that was the argument for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That is the doctrine of preemptive attack. That is what Israel did in 1967. That is not the argument I mean to address. Perhaps coincidentally – or maybe not, after consideration I [...]


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Analogize This

July 13, 2010

From time to time on this blog I have offered my opinion on the use of analogies in political argumentation. Generally speaking: not well done. An analogy became the culminating point of focus in that Jeffrey Goldberg-Glenn Greenwald dispute a couple of weeks ago that I covered over a series of posts. In “Pino/Cheney,” I [...]


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Eight Bad Arguments for Torture

March 5, 2010

I believe in American exceptionalism. There, I said it. Now let me make clear what I mean. I believe the American advent, the American idea, and the American experience are exceptional: a nation of laws, and not of men and women, a constitutional democracy founded in and devoted to the liberty of its people, a [...]


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