Friday Open Forum! February 19, 2021 / Jack Marshall [Remember, the password is “Ethics.”] Share this:TwitterLinkedInFacebookRedditPrintEmailLike this:Like Loading... Related
9 thoughts on “Friday Open Forum!”
So obvious it probably requires no comments.
The more school districts delay opening schools, the more parents will decide to homeschool.
“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
I’d like to entitle this one “Flashing Your ____ Credentials”. Fill in the blank with requisite support of some minority group.
My concern is this. Whenever I find myself wanting to criticize a behavior that seems especially prominent in a particular group, or if I am trying to express that I am not a hater of a particular group, I notice that I start with some comment about having friends, family, or acquaintances that belong to that group. Some examples:
“I’m not racist. I have coworkers who are black and I get along with them just fine.”
“I’m not homophobic, I have several close friends who are gay.”
“I get along just fine with the Native Americans I meet, but there’s a huge problem with alcoholism on the Wind River Reservation.”
Whatever comment I am trying to make should not require a preface that I get along with, have friends, or have family belonging to the particular group I am commenting about. In fact, it makes me feel like I’m trying to score cheap points by, as I mentioned above, flashing my credentials with the particular group to show that I’m qualified, or “in”, or something to legitimize what I’m saying. I notice plenty of other people doing it, too. Yet I also know that showing that I have close ties to people from certain minorities makes the matter more personal, and people are more inclined to listen when matters are more personal and less abstract.
So, in terms of bolstering one’s logical argument, “Flashing Your ____ Credentials” adds nothing. But in terms of making it more likely someone will consider your argument, it can accomplish something. This leads me the Prof. Nash Twelve Questions:
1. Have you defined the problem accurately? I believe I have. The problem is appealing to emotion to bolster a logical argument, when that appeal to emotion does nothing to validate or invalidate the conclusion of the argument.
2. How would you define the problem if you stood on the other side of the fence? At the risk of diving off the deep end, I could define the problem as trivializing my relationship with the member of the minority in order to score points. In which case, I am actually being more racist/sexist/homephoboic/etc by using the credentials.
3. How did this situation occur in the first place? This comes as a reaction to rebuttals that have nothing to do with my arguments, but instead accuse me of hatred and bigotry for daring to criticize a particular action. I believe I have to defend myself against those accusations in order for my argument to be considered.
4. To whom and to what do you give your loyalty as person and as a member of the organization? I think my loyalty is to sound reasoning, which admittedly is heavily seen through the filter of Catholic theology and moral teaching. So I feel an obligation to defend the worldview that conforms to Catholic thought, but to defend it using sound arguments and not appeals to authority.
5. What is your intention of making this decision? My intention is to have my argument objectively considered on its merits, not on loyalty to party, class, race, etc. I use the “Flashing Your ___ Credentials” to interrupt accusations of bigotry and hatred, and perhaps even to dispose someone positively toward my arguments.
6. How does the intention compare with the probable results? It could either diffuse the anger against me or exacerbate it, depending on the other person.
7. Whom could your decision injure? This could, though not necessarily, lead my acquaintances/friends/family members to believe I’m using them as token representatives of their particular groups.
8. Can you discuss your problem with the affected parties before you make your decision? Absolutely. I could speak with my acquaintances/friends/family members about the arguments I’m posing whether they see it as beneficial or harmful to state that I have a good relationship with someone from a particular group, and that person is the individual I have in mind.
9. Are you confident that your position will be as valid over a long period of time as it seems now? It is possible that my relationship with certain individuals will sour over time, and it may be the case that it sours because my arguments about certain behaviors becomes intolerable to them. But given the relationships I have, I feel relatively confident that my “credentials” are reasonably secure.
10. Could you disclose without qualm your decision or action to your boss, the head of your organization, your colleagues, your family, the person you most admire, or society as a whole? Absolutely.
11. What is the symbolic potential of your action if understood? If misunderstood? And here is my biggest qualm: it could be misunderstood as making someone into a token representation of his particular group.
12. Are there circumstances when you would allow exceptions to your stand? What are they? In general I would not want to “Flash My ____ Credentials” at all, because I want my arguments to stand on their own merit. So realistically, I would want to only use them when demanded by the other party. However, most of the time, the credentials are flashed to preempt any rebuttal based on bigotry and hatred. An alternative to flashing credentials would be to counter with a demand of how being bigoted or a hater would change the validity of my arguments.
Yet, even after all this consideration, I’m still in the same boat. Credential flashing seems to have certain downsides that should make it unethical: it could backfire with the person I’m talking to, it doesn’t directly contribute to my argument, and it could estrange the people with whom I currently have a good relationship. On the other hand, it seems to be the expected thing to do to prove that one isn’t bigoted or a hater, and if it works, it clears the air of tangential concerns.
What does everyone else think?
I find myself avoiding saying ANYTHING these days in order to avoid credential flashing. Granted that is not a solution either. And the net result is that I can rarely have real conversations with people who are outside of my bubble. I don’t want to be stuck in my bubble, but like you, I can’t figure out how to make a simple statement without being accused of some type of bigotry.
If you feel the need to flash credentials then you are allowing yourself to be bullied. The only reason ones does this is because they feel it necessary to preemptively counter their claim that your point is unworthy because you are a bigot. You do not have to prove yourself worthy to debate. In a debate only the arguments count. It does not matter if all your friends are X ,Y or Z, observant people do not have to participate in a group to observe some type of aberrant or different behaviors. Don’t let them force you into this behavior.
Chris, I agree from the standpoint that if I’m going on the defensive because someone accuses me of bigotry, I’m caving in to the bullying. On the other hand, I find there are three broad situations in dealing with people:
1. They will listen to what you say without prompting
2. They will not listen no matter what you say
3. They will listen if you give them sufficient reason to listen
In some cases, it seems that some people will be mollified and listen to you if you flash credentials. Is it worth doing so, knowing the drawbacks, if it means that they will then actually give your argument a fair shake?
My observation is that SJWs have dismissive contempt for “I have friends who are…” because you are still being saying Things Which Bigots Say in their view.
Thanks for sharing. You made a lot of good points. It’s like you’re producing evidence to dispute their claims, but it’ll never be enough.
Update on total death numbers, now that 2020 is complete.
* Overall, there were 545K more deaths due to “all causes” in 2020 compared to 2019.
* Focusing on “natural deaths”, there were 525K more.