I’ve been meaning to read this post on the “motte and bailey doctrine” for ages, and I only just did so, after I realized just how short it is. (In other words, if you’ve not read it, get to it!)

Obviously, “motte and bailey” and “weak-manning” are standard strategies in intellectual discourse in America today. It’s easy to point fingers at others… but some better questions might be:

Do I fall back on these strategies sometimes? What are the effects of that? How would my intellectual life be different if I didn’t rely on these strategies? What would happen if they were deliberately rejected in my intellectual community? How can I help make that happen?

Alas, many Objectivists (including professional intellectuals) rely on “motte and bailey” and “weak-manning” heavily, particularly the latter. Unfortunately, being fair to opponents isn’t always strongly valued in Objectivist circles, and sometimes doing so is even seen as compromising with evil, blah blah blah. And acknowledging the downsides or inadequacies of some standard Objectivist view isn’t compatible with the cheerleading role (“only Objectivism can save the culture!”) that many have adopted.

Of course, I’m guilty of these strategies myself at times, and I’ve got work to do in that regard.

So I wonder: What would an intellectual community look like if the people involved in it sincerely and deliberately attempted to be rigorously fair in presenting their own ideas, as well as those of the opposing sides? I don’t know — although I can see that approach among some of my friends. As a result, we’ve learned a ton from new ideas and each other, and we’ve developed friendships of deep respect, despite some major disagreements. But how good could it get? I don’t know… but still so much better, I think.

Alienating People 101

 Posted by on 29 July 2014 at 10:00 am  GLBT, Politics, Religious Right, Rhetoric
Jul 292014

Based on the opening paragraph of Bait And Switch: How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy, I’m pretty sure that I’m not the target audience here:

Abolishing all civil marriage is the primary goal of the elites who have been pushing same sex marriage. The scheme called “marriage equality” is not an end in itself, and never really has been. The LGBT agenda has spawned too many other disparate agendas hostile to the existence of marriage, making marriage “unsustainable,” if you will. By now we should be able to hear the growing drumbeat to abolish civil marriage, as well as to legalize polygamy and all manner of reproductive technologies.

The whole column is ideologically loaded from start to finish. It’s worth reading — or reading as much of it as you can — to see why these kinds of super-charged writings (as too many Objectivists and libertarians tend to produce) are so pointless and off-putting. My view of the “save traditional marriage” crowd is now even lower than before I clicked. I don’t think that’s a win for their side.

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