The second statement of A seems more of a response to the appeal to emotion of B and not necessarily a retreat of any sort. B is where the fallacy is.
I don’t think rephrasing an argument into terms that are less crippling for some brains is unwarranted. — NOS4A2
But as Mikie pointed out, (A) might not in fact be aware of all that. The reason I chose the example is precisely because under a certain light it's not crystal clear who is in the wrong and why. — Jamal
So when someone's vacillating, one of the determinants of their position will be the broader context their position comes from — fdrake
Didn't Contrapoints do a bunch of work to show what the bailey was and what the motte was? I remember that they've previously shown that comment to be used by people who are almost assuredly transphobic, since they follow, reshare and post in transphobic communities (bailey). And those people also defend themselves in terms of the "biological definition" motte. — fdrake
Nevertheless, the kind of person who makes that statement in the kind of context that it tends to arise is justifiably expected to be making a prejudiced comment. If the person really really wanted to engage in the "what is gender identity" discussion in good faith, that's a bit different from the motte and bailey thing above. It might just highlight a gap in their understanding - or at least a lack of awareness of where the ideas can lead (and I think should lead). — fdrake
Totally. You might say it was irresponsible of me to so casually take it out of context and use it as an example, since without knowing about the context—the common situations that ContraPoints describes at length—one could look at the example and think that (A) is being reasonable or at least innocent of bigotry, which would make B look unreasonable. — Jamal
But A's second statement is not just a different way of putting the first statement. If A is fully aware of the issues, they know that the word "woman" is about gender, or about both sex and gender, or is at least ambiguous and controversial; whereas the second statement is explicitly about biological sex and thus represents a retreat. The first statement is a categorical proposition that relies on an equivocation and therefore cannot stand up to scrutiny.
But as @Mikie pointed out, (A) might not in fact be aware of all that. The reason I chose the example is precisely because under a certain light it's not crystal clear who is in the wrong and why.
So I think A’s natural response is to be defensive because such accusations could mean ostracism and violence, and I don’t think he’s retreating as if B had the better argument. — NOS4A2
it's not the motte-and-bailey image but rather the participants themselves who sometimes fail. Motte-and-baily identifies one way in which people fail in debate, and isn't that exactly what the identification of informal fallacies is meant to do — Jamal
↪Joshs That’s interesting. Do you mean that the actual occurrence of the fallacy is a means, within the debate, of finding a bridge; or do you mean that an awareness of the fallacy, that is, a real-time identification of it by an interlocutor, can be that means — Jamal
The motte-and-bailey fallacy occurs when someone advances a controversial claim—one that's difficult to defend—and when challenged retreats to an uncontroversial claim. The bold claim is the bailey, the safe claim the motte.
A: Trans women are not women. [bailey]
B: That's a transparently bigoted comment, functioning as it does to directly negate the gender identities of trans people and thereby deny their claims to equal treatment.
A: Look, all I'm saying is that biological sex cannot be changed and that women's rights need to be protected. And you call me a bigot! [motte]
[This example is inspired by YouTuber ContraPoints, who uses the idea to criticize J.K. Rowling and her supporters in this video, which is worth watching if you're interested in that particular issue.]
The idea was coined by Nicholas Shackel in The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology (PDF). — Jamal
And that truly high-minded participants extend Charity, even Steelman Variation and don't commit Siege. To me, that is a mark of intellect and enlightenment — TonesInDeepFreeze
In my opinion, cranks rarely deserve Charity or Steelman Variation. — TonesInDeepFreeze
It depends on whether you wanted to talk about transgenderism or Motte and Bailey in particular I guess. I assumed it was the latter. — I like sushi
do we extend democratic rights to radical anti-democrats, e.g., fascists? Surely not [...] — Jamal
anti-democratic elements, like written constitutions — Jamal
because we value the principle of charity we shouldn’t extend charity to irrational interlocutors — Jamal
a preposterous claim — TonesInDeepFreeze
I’m interested in both the abstract and the concrete, and how they relate. — Jamal
it is may be more informative to hear a refutation of a defensible claim than a refutation of a preposterous claim. — TonesInDeepFreeze
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