This is a unique Comment of the Day, self-explanatory and greatly appreciated.
Here is teacher Andrew Myette’s COTD on Item #1 of the post, Saturday Afternoon (Because I Was Up At 5 AM Writing About CNN’s Unethical “Town Hall”) Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/18: Generic Packaging Scams, Goodbye Molly, Polls, And Welcome Student Commenters!:
Mr. Marshall and Ethics Alarms’ Commentators:
I am the (a?) teacher who has directed my students to Ethics Alarms. I teach an Expository Reading and Writing Course to 12th grade students. Part of the high school English curriculum, the course was developed by the California State University system in response to an influx of students who were not prepared for the rigors of college reading and writing, most notably the inability to recognize, respond, and develop argument.
I have directed them to Ethics Alarms because of the opportunity for them to engage in real world discourse on significant, relevant, and important issues, many of which challenge their world views.
I do not endorse nor do I condone inflammatory, immature, and inaccurate commentary. They know better – or, at least, I hope. As Mr. Marshall posted (under another post), I agree that their age should not excuse them from the challenges they encounter in this forum (“they will not be coddled”). I encourage it. But they must also handle the challenges of the forum with maturity, decorum, and respect. To do otherwise is a sad testament to their preparation for life after high school.
Here are the guidelines I have instructed my students to use when examining and writing argument:
When responding to argument, in writing or verbally, please keep in mind the following.
Be passionate! Reason originates in emotion, but must be tempered by logic and ethos.
Read (listen to) through the text you responding to, including comments, if any. Before you respond, consider the following aspects of rhetoric: Continue reading
At 7:23 AM this morning, veteran commenter Pennagain was sufficiently lucid to Penn this helpful commentary and reminiscence regarding civics, education, debate, perspective and proportionality. I am duly impressed.
Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on yesterday’s post on the significance of middle school students deliberately disrespecting the Speaker of the House, “What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub”:
I grew up in a thoroughly corrupt local political community (Jersey City, Hudson County, 1940s) where politicians mostly scared the hell out of us kids. They never hid their opinion of children as nuisances (non-voters, non-party-contributors, non-influential: period); as pawns to gain them applause (recipients of school awards or sponsored – not paid for – say, a week at summer camp or a trip to the carnival); as slaves (untipped or unpaid car washers, runners, leaf-rakers, lawn-mowers, paperboys etc.); or as flat out enemies (boys in particular who set off firecrackers or let their dogs loose at a rally or dared put their dirty, sticky hands on our officeholders’ bright black Buicks).
These refugees from Tammany Hall were no more considered respectable, responsible, worthy leaders than Dick Tracy’s B.O. Plenty and the school-age kids knew it. “Boss” (Mayor) Hague (“Listen, here is the law! I am the law!”), who ruled the city directly from 1917 to 1947 and indirectly for at least another 30 years, was universally hated and often feared, second to none in political corruption. Nonetheless, lip service and stiffly polite behavior was the rule in public, if only because parents were the greater examples; and they held the direct punishment power. Possibly, too, much as peer pressure obtained on the playground, children away from school lacked almost all the authority they would obtain in the next decade. We had an allowance if we were lucky, but no real buying power — we were a marketing force only in terms of breakfast cereal and comic books. Even toys and candy remained pretty much classics. Though we were a widely mixed group ethnically, in the classroom or the gym, we had no separate clubs or meeting places for our particular interests. We attended the afterschool activities, sports, religious observations and social functions dictated by our parents (I was treated to a few weeks of ballroom dancing classes one horrid Fall). Aside from running wild virtually unsupervised during any free time — and we found plenty of free time — we heard the opinions of our parents, ministers, teachers, newspaper-reading assignments, and listened with family around mealtimes to whatever was on the radio. Continue reading
Texagg04, who is a long-time asset on Ethics Alarms for refining the resources here, added to the recent post on Argument Fallacies with a useful compendium of 19th Century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s views on the subject, from the Great Pessimist’s “The Art of Controversy.” It also provides me with a welcome opportunity to display Art’s wonderful face, as he was one of those people who looked exactly like his writing would make you assume he looked.
Here is tex’s Comment of the Day on the post, Finally! A Complete List Of Argument Fallacies…
Another great resource is Arthur Schopenhauer’s “The Art of Controversy”, in which he lays out 38 common methods that debaters use to cheat their way to a “win”.
Here’s a list from this website: http://www.mnei.nl/schopenhauer/38-stratagems.htm,which seems like as good a summary as I’ve seen of the list.
1. Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponent’s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow his or her propositions remain, the easier they are to defend by him or her.
2. Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his or her argument.
3. Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to a particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than that which was asserted.
4. Hide your conclusion from your opponent till the end. Mingle your premises here and there in your talk. Get your opponent to agree to them in no definite order. By this circuitious route you conceal your game until you have obtained all the admissions that are necessary to reach your goal.
5. Use your opponent’s beliefs against him. If the opponent refuses to accept your premises, use his own premises to your advantage.
6. Another plan is to confuse the issue by changing your opponent’s words or what he or she seeks to prove.
7. State your proposition and show the truth of it by asking the opponent many questions. By asking many wide-reaching questions at once, you may hide what you want to get admitted. Then you quickly propound the argument resulting from the opponent’s admissions.
8. Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgement or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.
9. Use your opponent’s answers to your questions to reach different or even opposite conclusions.
10. If your opponent answers all your questions negatively and refuses to grant any points, ask him or her to concede the opposite of your premises. This may confuse the opponent as to which point you actually seek them to concede.
11. If the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, refrain from asking him or her to agree to your conclusion. Later, introduce your conclusion as a settled and admitted fact. Your opponent may come to believe that your conclusion was admitted.
Donald Trump is making it clear that he isn’t going to study, prepare, prep or train seriously for Sunday’s presidential debate. Well, why not? After all, without substantive or appropriately focused preparation for the first debate, he was…oh, right, he was lousy. Donald doesn’t think so, however, and that’s what matters. He is now mocking Hillary Clinton for doing what anyone would do who understands the crucial mission at hand, and the importance of hard work. She is preparing, just as she would if she wasn’t going to be debating an ignorant buffoon.
One thing the Clintons cannot be criticized for is their determination and diligence. They both always work hard, and are thoroughly prepared for whatever they do. Trump, in contrast, has prospered his whole life by bluffing, bullying, posturing and faking. He had his career and a fortune handed to him by his father, and really is the embodiment of Ann Richards’ famous jibe at George H.W. Bush that he was someone who woke up on third base and thought he had hit a triple. Continue reading
Bad ideas take root when they are not immediately called what they are—bad—, then mocked, eviscerated, and destroyed with reason, logic and common sense. That is why fools should never be suffered gladly, and why their foolish inspirations should be dashed before they are allowed to draw a breath. Many factors, such as misplaced politeness, mistaking open-mindedness for lack of critical thought, laziness and cowardice allow these bad ideas to spread like weeds.
Who was it that shrugged when it was first suggested that the U.S. should ignore its own immigration laws? Who was it who failed to point and laugh when someone suggested that rape accusations in colleges should be decided without due process? Who neglected to say, “Whaat?” when a legislator suggested that workers be exempted from doing the duties required of their jobs when their religions disapproved of them? Good ideas can be defended against the attacks of those without imagination or daring. Bad ideas have to slip by, undetected and unrebutted, until they get out of control.
Some, indeed many, allowed the ridiculous “safe spaces” theory to live when it should have been strangled in its crib. Now it is strangling education and open discourse on campuses all over the nation. I’m proud to say that Ethics Alarms did its part deftly when the related argument was raised on various blogs, including this one, that places of debate should be “safe,” in the sense that no commenter risk a harsh rebuttal or an insulting retort no matter what that commenter wrote. We lost a couple of hardy and substantive participants over the issue.
The “safe places” theory is especially sinister, as it also creates places safe for more bad ideas to flourish and grow beyond the stage where they can be stamped out with ease. Of course, not every idea, even good ones, are welcome to all. “Safe spaces” means guaranteed safety from ideas that are unwelcome to the specific group constructing its safe zone, ideas like, say, “TRUMP 2016.” It is the culmination of the position that people should be guaranteed the right not to be confronted with opposing views. Now the University of Edinburgh, “influencing the world since 1583,” is showing us what happens when the weeds of “safe spaces” are allowed to spread. Continue reading