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July 11, 2006

Comments

Chuckles

Comments:

1. The "Hear the other side" argument is very loosely based on some kind of cultural relativism. To the extent that it is not, it only ends of reinforcing *your* own beliefs because it supplies the satisfaction of self righteousness that you have derived from hearing the other side - or, the intellectual content that you have considered opposing arguments and summarily disposed of them: Often by carrying out several unconscious ad hoc modifications to your own hypothesis.

Frank McGahon

or, the intellectual content that you have considered opposing argument

That's exactly it. Often these attempts to give the "best argument you can think of for a position you find abhorrent" are merely exercises in strawman erection.

Hugh Green

The problem with adopting an opposing view as a kind of balance or foil to your own is that there's no guarantee that that position is any less based on unreason than your own!

This is true. Thinking about this further, if your own position is based on unreason, then any opposing view that you invent for yourself would be guaranteed to be based on unreason. So if the point is to gauge how reasonable your own position is, it's pretty much a waste of time, and probably an exercise in self-deception.

Frank McGahon

So if the point is to gauge how reasonable your own position is, it's pretty much a waste of time, and probably an exercise in self-deception.

You're right, with the added "bonus" that you get to flatter your vanity - this is probably the principal reason I was unimpressed by all those "opposite day" posts that were doing the rounds a short while ago. As I said, Popper had the right idea - subscribe to your beliefs only on a provisional basis and test them to destruction - it's a better way of getting closer to the truth.

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