Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Foundations 6: Arguing Politics

          In every argument between individuals, there is a disagreement. The disagreement on a given issue in politics is not necessarily the place to argue, however. A political stance is the result of a long line of logical steps that incrementally move from a base idea to the position in question. If one arrives at an idea after 20 steps from the base idea, and another uses 20 steps from a similar base idea to arrive at a different stance, then the chances are small that the true disagreement lies in the stance itself.
          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, ],” but rather “Ok, we disagree. Let’s find the root of that disagreement and dispassionately, with mutual respect for the integrity of an idea, discuss the discrepancies.” It is absolutely possible for two people to be completely opposed, but have the best interests of America and good intentions at heart. I will not necessarily agree with them, but I will never put down someone personally because of a difference of ideas. I hold ideas in reverence. They are too important and eternal to be tied to mortal flesh.


Anonymous said...

Good post- great info and logical- I sometimes don't follow the steps that get to My conclusions and I am guilty of confusing others of why I came to My positions- However usually I don't go into detail online as it's tiresome to type this much- and maybe why places like facebook seem to be full of what you are seeing. I prefer face to face to have in depth debate. Thanks and I have learned something though which is great!- Elizabeth

Live Free said...

I certainly agree with you about wanting to have a face-to-face discussion. If I were ever unfortunate enough to be running for a political office, I think I would spend most of my time talking to people in various forums for exactly that reason. I appreciate the comments and feedback!