In the example above, say the two individuals agree on the base idea and the first 10 steps of logic. If they are trying to convince each other by saying “America should do A because of step 19”or “America should do B because of my step 19,” then they will never be able to reach a consensus because they have no common ground.
Instead they must trace back their arguments. For example, they realize they don’t agree on step 19, and so ask each other “why do believe that?” The answer is because of step 18. Once again they disagree and the process continues. Eventually they say “I believe step 11 because of step 10,” and “I also believe step 10, but it gives me this step 11.” Now they have found the point of divergence in their views and the true discussion may begin.
In this true discussion they may say something like “you used this logical argument to move from step 10 to step 11, but that is in fact a fallacy, not a logical truth,” or “you brought in an outside idea to get from step 10 to step 11, and it is not a correct or proven idea.” In the first case, knowing and using mathematical logic will help, such as “if P, then Q.” Logic is a well-founded and accepted science. Were it to be employed more often, I think we may find ourselves with fewer disputes on our hands. The second case is more difficult to argue. The reason for the outside idea not meeting approval must itself be traced back to a point of disagreement, and the process revisited.
In the end, every person should be able to trace each stance on every position back to a set of base ideas. If the base ideas of two people do not coincide, then reaching agreement is unlikely and the discussion itself must center on the base ideas and trying to convince your neighbor that his or her ideas are not the best set to use. If the base ideas coincide, then a rigorous examination of the logical arguments, or “proofs,” should yield some ground toward concurrence.
I write this not because I think that these concepts are beyond understanding, but because I do not think that most people approach their political thoughts in this manner. This can be seen by examining a person’s stances and finding ones that seem contradictory. Did a person arrive at that conclusion after rigorous examination of their principles, or because a role model or trusted political figure proposed it? How much self-examination are most people willing to do on their own ideas? If people were to identify their principles, build logical stances from these, and routinely reexamine them in the light of new information, I think many would be surprised.
My primary goal in this endeavor, in this blog, is not to promote libertarianism. That is only a secondary goal, as I realize that my arguments may have flaws. Libertarianism is only the best answer I have right now. My true goal is to create a dialog where we can talk to each other about contentious ideas without saying “you believe this so you are [extreme, hard-hearted, soft-hearted, weak, gay, nazi,