• creativesoul
    8.3k
    So, Rudy Guiliani was being interviewed when asked why he once presented something as fact that he now(at that time) was presenting as mere opinion. I cannot remember the specific details, but that doesn't matter to the larger point. I'm sure it could be googled if one wants to know. For certain, he was using a narrative aiming at the exoneration of Trump. He was arguing against some charge or other against Trump.

    I am just astounded at the idea that the President of the United States has an attorney, who in the public sphere, just shrugged off the difference between fact and opinion as if it doesn't matter at all. It does matter. It matters regarding the content of Rudy's narrative, particularly whether or not he believed what he said. It matters that one in his position shrugs off the difference between his presenting something as fact compared/contrasted to his presenting something as just opinion. This is the President of the United States' attorney that we're talking about!

    :gasp:
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Nothing surprises me. Trump has spouted a mixture of lies, confabulation and half-truths since the moment he appeared onstage, and anyone who is on his team has to sing off the same sheet.

    This week’s David Brooks column nails it.

    Americans have always had a tremendous capacity for fantasy. Jay Gatsby is a classic American hero because he constructed a fantasy version of himself and then attempted to live it. John Wayne constructed a fantasy version of the American West, which a lot of people still try to imitate.

    There’s a great quote further down:

    ‘As Daniel Boorstin understood back in 1962, you can’t refute an image with a fact.’

    That explains so much about Trump.
  • Erik
    598
    I'm no fan of Trump or Guiliani but I find it hard to believe he shrugged off the difference between fact and opinion. I'd like to find out the particulars of the case before commenting.
  • unenlightened
    5k
    I would want my lawyer to present my case, not the truth, (unless they happened to be the same), but it is a poor lawyer that admits it is not the case that the case is the truth.
  • Erik
    598
    This is redolent of the "post truth" debate that raged here some time ago; assuming that Guiliani did in fact say or imply the two (fact and opinion) are indistinguishable.

    People misrepresent facts, omit them etc. all the time in their endeavor to skew others' opinions in ways they find to be favorable to their - or their group's - agenda and interests, especially politicians. Trump and his cohorts have no special monopoly on this tactic, although I'd concede that he (they) seems much less interested in concealing this 'fact' than his more polished competitors.

    Ultimately that's what it came down to last time around if I recall correctly: consensus was reached that politicians of all eras and political parties lie, but those who predated Trump at least had the decency to acknowledge such a thing as truth (facts) even as they distorted it. Trump and Guiliani, on the other hand, will not concede that fundamental distinction.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    I believe he's referring to this:

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Well let’s — let’s — the other day you also told BuzzFeed, though, that at some point after the 2016 election, Michael Cohen had complained to some people that he hadn’t been paid by Donald Trump. And then — so then you said Cohen met with Trump and told him and Giuliani said that we’ll cover your expenses, they work out this $35,000 a month retainer after that. So — so the president did know about this after the campaign?

    GIULIANI: Can’t say that. I mean, at some point, yes but it could have been recently, it could have been a while back. Those are the facts that we’re still working on. And that — you know, may be in a little bit of dispute. This is more rumor than it is anything else. But…

    STEPHANOPOULOS: But that’s what you said. You said that to BuzzFeed.

    GIULIANI: But here’s the — but here’s the — well, yes, I mean that — that’s one of the possibilities and one of the rumors. The reality is …

    STEPHANOPOULOS: You stated it as fact.

    GIULIANI: Well, maybe I did. But I — right now, I’m at the point where I’m learning, and I can only — I can’t prove that. I can just say it’s rumor. I can prove it’s rumor, but I can’t prove it’s fact. Yet. Maybe we will.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: But — but you’ve said as — it — you’ve said as a matter of fact on Hannity and BuzzFeed, you talked to the Washington Post about it.

    GIULIANI: I don’t know — I don’t know how you separate fact and opinion.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    Also related is this:

    Giuliani also said that he is concerned that a Trump interview with Mueller could be set up to catch the president on a possible perjury charge because “truth is relative.”

    “They may have a different version of the truth than we do,” Giuliani said.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.9k
    It's almost as if some of Trump's magic pixie dust has rubbed off onto Guilianni.

    Nothing can drag you down when you can fly to neverland at any moment on the power of bullshit alone.
  • Erik
    598
    I've always considered Guiliani to be a typical Republican bullshitter. I used to think the Left was different - at least slightly more truthful and compassionate, etc. - but not so much anymore. Trump has turned us into a bunch of freaking loons. We now (e.g.) enthusiastically support global free trade after his proposed tariffs, we take a bellicose nationalistic stance towards Russia, we ridicule the lower and middle classes, we place our trust in the FBI without any reservations, etc.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    So, Rudy Guiliani was being interviewed when asked why he once presented something as fact that he now(at that time) was presenting as mere opinion.

    I think you may be referring to Giuliani's implicit self refutation of this own statement regarding the subpoenaing of a president. In 1998 Charlie Rose asked Guiliani if President Clinton could be subpoenaed and Giuliani said yes, but now that Trump is President he says no, a President can't be subpoenaed.

    So rather than saying he had changed his mind he doubles down on his current position, which is the preferred Republican way of presenting an opinion as if it were a fact, since it plays well to their constituency.
  • Tomseltje
    215
    Why assume facts are of any relevance to a politicians?
  • Erik
    598
    Giuliani also said that he is concerned that a Trump interview with Mueller could be set up to catch the president on a possible perjury charge because “truth is relative.”

    “They may have a different version of the truth than we do,” Giuliani said.

    Thank you for the (possible) contex, Michael.

    In many cases I think this statement of Guiliani's is true. I got into a verbal altercation with a fellow employee a while back, for example, and our versions of what transpired - of the "facts" - were significantly different. And I don't think the person I had the issue with was intentionally lying; we just saw things from a different perspective.

    Some things are obviously less subject to this sort of wiggle room than others, such as determining whether more people attended Obama's inauguration than Trump's, but I think there's some "truth" to Giuliani's claim. Doesn't mean that anything goes, of course, but people don't always see or interpret things in the same way. There's a huge difference, however, between honest disagreement, faulty memory, partial (and biased) perspective, etc. and lying to save your ass or gain some advantage.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k


    That's another matter, and it is equally important here. Michael actually put the interview forth in a link. The words... by themselves... do not offer the context as well as watching and hearing Rudy's language and behaviour during...
  • Baden
    10.7k
    I watched some of Rudy's interviews. A bit bizarre and incompetent but not that unexpected from a lawyer trying to protect his client.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k


    Here is where philosophy and narrative are important...

    Belief is not truth. All folk may have their own belief about the facts. They do not have their own truth. Belief can be false. Truth cannot. Facts cannot.

    The difference between opinion and fact is simple. All opinion is based in belief about events that have happened, are happening, or will happen with the last of these being predictive/expectation. Those events that have happened or are happening are facts. One's opinion about the facts can be true or false. The facts are precisely what makes them so. Facts cannot be either, true or false. They are what makes opinions truth apt. When an opinion is true, it corresponds to the relevant facts. When it is false, it does not.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    Giuliani is conflating truth, fact, and opinion. His speech is self-contradictory and ought be shown for exactly what it is. These are important matters. Even to those who think otherwise.

    Too often, far too often...

    The media doesn't have someone making the case as it ought be made to the American people. Obfuscation and distraction reigns. The about-face Giuliani did on subpoena of the President is a fine example. Cava mentioned it above.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k


    Regarding Giuliani's 'truth'...

    People have conflicting opinions about what happened or is happening(the facts). It does not follow from that that truth is relative. That is to conflate truth and opinion. Rudy did just that. Unfortunately, there may be enough other people who use those terms in a similar enough manner to also think that "there is some 'truth'" to Giuliani's claims.

    Rudy also conflated truth with fact, when he said that people have their own version of 'truth'...

    Sad that he's not called out for either being insincere or just plain not knowing what the hell he's talking about. Neither is acceptable.
  • Erik
    598
    People have conflicting opinions about what happened or is happening(the facts). It does not follow from that that truth is relative. That is to conflate truth and opinion. Rudy did just that. Unfortunately, there may be enough other people who use those terms in a similar enough manner to also think that "there is some 'truth'" to Giuliani's claims.creativesoul

    I made that point earlier so I'm not sure why you seem to be ascribing a position to me that I don't hold. Maybe it's just a benign oversight but it doesn't seem truthful at all, which is interesting since you're here defending the sanctity of truth against sophistry.

    Here's what I said and you can tell me how it differs from your basic position, in a more general sense than the specific case of Guiliani.

    "Some things are obviously less subject to this sort of wiggle room than others, such as determining whether more people attended Obama's inauguration than Trump's, but I think there's some "truth" to Giuliani's claim. Doesn't mean that anything goes, of course, but people don't always see or interpret things in the same way. There's a huge difference, however, between honest disagreement, faulty memory, partial (and biased) perspective, etc. and lying to save your ass or gain some advantage.
  • Erik
    598
    And that's why I said the specific details of the case, the specific facts under dispute, mattered. You seemed to suggest they weren't relevant with regard to the larger issue, but I'll go back and re-read to hopefully avoid further confusion.
  • Erik
    598
    The difference between opinion and fact is simple. All opinion is based in belief about events that have happened, are happening, or will happen with the last of these being predictive/expectation. Those events that have happened or are happening are facts. One's opinion about the facts can be true or false. The facts are precisely what makes them so. Facts cannot be either, true or false. They are what makes opinions truth apt. When an opinion is true, it corresponds to the relevant facts. When it is false, it does not.creativesoul

    I read an article a while ago concerning how the interpretation of carpetbaggers - northerners who went down south to help with Reconstruction after the Civil War - had significantly shifted historically. At first they were almost unanimously perceived as shameless, self-serving opportunists who sought to take advantage of the chaos in the postwar South to enrich themselves. That lasted for 30-40 years and then it underwent a change to the notion that, while they may have been deeply flawed human beings who made many mistakes, they nevertheless sought to do good by helping emancipated slaves in a bad situation. And much later, during the 1960's civil rights era, the interpretation altered to the point where they were seen as essentially flawless figures heroically willing to risk their lives to battle forces of racism and corruption on behalf of the oppressed.

    Which interpretation is true? What are the facts? How do we separate fact from belief or opinion, fact from value, objective from subjective? Do our current background assumptions and interests influence the way we perceive and understand things? Do they contribute to the way we determine which facts are relevant and which aren't? Etc.

    I watched my son's baseball game last week and there was a disputed play at 2nd base, a throw down form the catcher to get the runner stealing. The runner was called out and the fans on one side were enraged by the ruling. The other side's fans agreed with the call and couldn't believe there would even be any argument. My point is that even factual matters - and in this case replay would have shown which side was right - seem subject to dispute based on personal interest, perspective, and a number of additional things which make the ostensibly simple distinction between fact and opinion a bit more complex in all but the most mundane matters (e.g., is there a cat on the mat?), or in scientific matters which disclose beings in a particular way. The same thing can show itself from a number of standpoints, each revealing it from a particular perspective but also hiding other possible aspects. Thinking of Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit or Heidegger's distinction between present-at-hand, ready-to-hand, etc. A hammer can be both a material object investigated scientifically and an everyday object of human use within a context of other pieces of equipment, human projects, etc.

    In other words, in many cases truth appears to be more a more complex matter than simple correspondence, especially when involving past events, guiding assumptions, personal interests, and the like which influence the way things show up for us. Imo of course. You may very well be right about Trump and Giuliani - I would extend my personal cynicism towards politicians to include pretty much all of them - but, as mentioned, I think this wider topic of truth/belief/opinion may not be as simple as it appears on the surface. And while I'd concede that they shouldn't be purposely conflated, it is often hard to completely disentangle them. Again, this doesn't necessarily lead to an absurd and imo indefensible form of relativism.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    People have conflicting opinions about what happened or is happening(the facts). It does not follow from that that truth is relative. That is to conflate truth and opinion. Rudy did just that. Unfortunately, there may be enough other people who use those terms in a similar enough manner to also think that "there is some 'truth'" to Giuliani's claims.

    Rudy also conflated truth with fact, when he said that people have their own version of 'truth'...
    creativesoul

    I made that point earlier so I'm not sure why you seem to be ascribing a position to me that I don't hold. Maybe it's just a benign oversight but it doesn't seem truthful at all, which is interesting since you're here defending the sanctity of truth against sophistryErik

    You've missed the point. How we come to terms with things directly affects/effects our thought, belief, and subsequent behaviour(s). Using terms in the way that Giuliani has can cause one to agree with what he says, believe that there is some 'truth' in it, and not be able to denounce it for what it is.




    I read an article a while ago concerning how the interpretation of carpetbaggers - northerners who went down south to help with Reconstruction after the Civil War - had significantly shifted historically. At first they were almost unanimously perceived as shameless, self-serving opportunists who sought to take advantage of the chaos in the postwar South to enrich themselves. That lasted for 30-40 years and then it underwent a change to the notion that, while they may have been deeply flawed human beings who made many mistakes, they nevertheless sought to do good by helping emancipated slaves in a bad situation. And much later, during the 1960's civil rights era, the interpretation altered to the point where they were seen as essentially flawless figures heroically willing to risk their lives to battle forces of racism and corruption on behalf of the oppressed.

    Which interpretation is true? What are the facts? How do we separate fact from belief or opinion, fact from value, objective from subjective?...
    Erik

    The above works from a few questionable presuppositions. It is a mistake to think that all re-constructionists had the same motives. Thus, it is equally mistaken to ascribe a single set of operative beliefs(motives) to all of them. Yet that is precisely what's been done here. So, none of the "interpretations" are true.

    The facts are whatever happened and/or was happening at the time. We separate fact, belief, opinion, value, objective, and subjective by using the words to talk about different things. It is when we use those words to talk about the same things that inevitably leads to confusion, self-contradiction, or just plain ole' nonsense.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    I watched my son's baseball game last week and there was a disputed play at 2nd base, a throw down form the catcher to get the runner stealing. The runner was called out and the fans on one side were enraged by the ruling. The other side's fans agreed with the call and couldn't believe there would even be any argument. My point is that even factual matters - and in this case replay would have shown which side was right - seem subject to dispute based on personal interest, perspective, and a number of additional things which make the ostensibly simple distinction between fact and opinion a bit more complex in all but the most mundane matters (e.g., is there a cat on the mat?), or in scientific matters which disclose beings in a particular way...Erik

    The runner was either safe or not. The opinions differ accordingly and they are what's subject for dispute. What happened is indisputable. The distinction between facts and opinions about the facts is not complex, nor need it be.

    I agree with the point that folk have different opinions about what happened. That doesn't change what happened.



    ...In other words, in many cases truth appears to be more a more complex matter than simple correspondence, especially when involving past events, guiding assumptions, personal interests, and the like which influence the way things show up for us. Imo of course...

    They way things show up for us(what one believes happened) is not equivalent to the way things are(what happened). Word use matters. The term "truth" has many accepted uses. Some lead to confusion/conflation, and some do not.



    ...I think this wider topic of truth/belief/opinion may not be as simple as it appears on the surface. And while I'd concede that they shouldn't be purposely conflated, it is often hard to completely disentangle them...

    The wider topic of truth, belief, and opinion is actually more complex on it's surface as a result of so many people conflating them, along with fact. Word use matters.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    Why assume facts are of any relevance to a politicians?Tomseltje

    Why assume that they aren't?

    They clearly are, otherwise they wouldn't neglect to speak about the ones they find damaging, and openly espouse the one's they find helpful...
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    I've always considered Guiliani to be a typical Republican bullshitter. I used to think the Left was different - at least slightly more truthful and compassionate, etc. - but not so much anymore. Trump has turned us into a bunch of freaking loons. We now (e.g.) enthusiastically support global free trade after his proposed tariffs, we take a bellicose nationalistic stance towards Russia, we ridicule the lower and middle classes, we place our trust in the FBI without any reservations, etc.Erik

    This is as aside, however, Trump has shown some flaws of American politics and culture(for that matter) to those capable of noticing. Most don't.

    Trump hasn't turned us into loons. Trump is not the problem. He is the result of long-standing ones. Unfortunately, I have little hope that those problems will ever become believed or known by enough people for the right kinds of change to take place. American culture has long glorified all sorts of things that are damaging to the great experiment, while condemning all sorts of things that are essential to it's long-term success. In short, there are not enough people on the same page to fix what needs fixed. Given the influence of money on American government, *ahem*... the affects/effects of legitimized bribery... I'm not even sure that it's possible to get enough people on the same page...



    More to the point of the thread...

    The confusion of fact and opinion is fostered by so many people using the terms "fact", "opinion", "truth", and "belief" as synonyms for one another. "Your truth", "my truth", "his truth", "her truth":Phrases such as these, while often used for admirable purposes, are damaging to one's understanding of themselves and the world. They do no justice to the ideal of accepting different beliefs, values, and preferences.

    Conflating fact, opinion, truth, and belief results in the utter incapability of knowing what to believe, who to believe, and why one ought believe. Some public schools have curriculums which actuslly teach this sort of conflation. It's really sad...

    Many, if not most, Americans will believe just about anything that people/politicians they agree with on some matters say about other matters. Amongst other reasons, that is a direct result of not knowing what sorts of things can be true and what makes them so:The inevitable consequence of the aforementioned conflations...
  • Tomseltje
    215
    Why assume that they aren't?

    They clearly are, otherwise they wouldn't neglect to speak about the ones they find damaging, and openly espouse the one's they find helpful...
    creativesoul

    Well, perhaps they are not totally irrelevant to a politicians, my remark was a reference to the tendency of a politicians to consider facts way less important than public opinion. So sure, if a fact influences or can influence public opinion, then it becomes important to a politicians. However, the point is, that if the fact has no possible influence on the public opinion (for instance when it's a secret, or too complicated to understand by most people, or just doesn't get attention from the public) a politicians usually doesn't seem interested in it at all.
  • Dalai Dahmer
    73
    Is this all about an alleged consensual sexual act between two adult people? Why does such trivia need to be so political?

    What was that Stalinistic statement? Something like "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear"?

    Well we do, and should, have things we should hide. It comes under the heading of 'Privacy'.

    Everyone is, or should be, entitled to privacy where there is no harm to others. Was someone harmed by an alleged orgasm?

    If a president must be seen as different than any other citizen, with regard to privacy and personal family matters, then the flip side is that he can also be different enough to be above the same laws as all those other citizens - and we shouldn't want that.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    Is this all about an alleged consensual sexual act between two adult people?Dalai Dahmer

    No.

    What was that Stalinistic statement? Something like "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear"?

    Well we do, and should, have things we should hide. It comes under the heading of 'Privacy'.

    All things one wants to hide ought be protected under privacy?


    Everyone is, or should be, entitled to privacy where there is no harm to others. Was someone harmed by an alleged orgasm?

    Red Herring.

    It's not the orgasm that is harmful when an elected official is unfaithful to his/her spouse.


    If a president must be seen as different than any other citizen, with regard to privacy and personal family matters, then the flip side is that he can also be different enough to be above the same laws as all those other citizens - and we shouldn't want that.

    This makes no sense whatsoever.

    The thread is about how the public narrative affects/effects the public thought, belief, and subsequent action(s).

    There's much to be said about government officials lying to the American people, including but most certainly not limited to cases of lying during a campaign in order to get elected.

    What constitutes committing fraud against the American people?

    :yikes:
  • Dalai Dahmer
    73

    No.
    creativesoul

    So what is it about then?

    quote="creativesoul;183940"] .All things one wants to hide ought be protected under privacy?[/quote]

    Personal relationships including private family matters, yes of course. It is nobody else's business.

    .

    This makes no sense whatsoever.
    creativesoul

    We are supposedly all "equal under the law". What is there not to understand about that? An agent of the government has no right to ask you anything about your personal and consensual arrangements and certainly not expect answers to such inappropriate questions.

    Would you like an agent of the government to demand such answers from you?

    The thread is about how the public narrative affects/effects the public thought, belief, and subsequent action(s).

    There's much to be said about government officials lying to the American people, including but most certainly not limited to cases of lying during a campaign in order to get elected.
    creativesoul

    It is therefore up to voters to decide. It is not a legal matter. Government agencies are not supposed to be partaking in partisan politics.

    What constitutes committing fraud against the American people?creativesoul

    Well that will be a very long list. You may list these yourself if you wish.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    When you dig down to the philosophical issues in depth, the distinction between fact and belief can seem to blur. However, with the possible exception of Pontius Pilate, I have never known of a single case where a politician or lawyer has seriously questioned the distinction from that kind of philosophical perspective. Giuliani, Trump and their like rather help themselves to the fact/belief distinction we're all familiar with from our everyday lives when it serves their purposes, and then simply move those posts together when it looks like they are about to score an own goal - at least, that's how it seems to me. At best it is intellectual inconsistency, at worst intellectual dishonesty - in the former case an appropriate cure might be a course in philosophical logic, in the latter some hard time might allow them to see the error of their ways - imagine what the world would be like if politicians and lawyers faced jail for intellecutal dishonesty, of course you'd have to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.
    I'm reminded of something I read towards the beginning of Robert Nozick's Philosophical Explanations (which in general is a double misnomer for that work, but that's another topic) in which he says that there really is nothing one can do just with words to persuade someone who, when faced with a choice between abandoning consistency or giving up their position, will prefer to abandon consistency.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    We are supposedly all "equal under the law". What is there not to understand about that? An agent of the government has no right to ask you anything about your personal and consensual arrangements and certainly not expect answers to such inappropriate questions.

    Would you like an agent of the government to demand such answers from you?
    Dalai Dahmer

    If all you meant was "equal under the law" then we've no disagreement. Keep in mind here that not all law applies to all people. Some laws apply to the financial district. Others apply to business owner responsibility. Others still apply to elected officials.

    On a personal level, one could argue that it's none of anyone's business if someone running for office has had multiple extra-marital affairs replete with non-disclosure agreements as a means to keep them secret. On another level, one could argue that it is most certainly the business of the American people to know about the people running for office. How else does the public form their opinion about them?

    For example, many folk hold moral values, such as abortion and other civil rights of the utmost importance. If a candidate for office holds contradictory values to a voter, then that voter has every right to know about that, for those are the kinds of things that many people use to decide how to vote.

    Note here that these are veins of thought that are tangential to the spirit of the thread. To make this line of thought more germane...

    Say a candidate says 'X', but does not believe that 'X' is true. Further suppose that 'X' is something that a very large swathe of the population holds as of the utmost importance regarding which candidate will get their vote. The candidate is quite aware of all this, and in fact, s/he has asserted 'X' for no other reason than to acquire the votes of the people in question here(of those particular voters).

    I would strongly argue that that candidate has committed fraud against the American people.
  • creativesoul
    8.3k
    I'm reminded of something I read towards the beginning of Robert Nozick's Philosophical Explanations (which in general is a double misnomer for that work, but that's another topic) in which he says that there really is nothing one can do just with words to persuade someone who, when faced with a choice between abandoning consistency or giving up their position, will prefer to abandon consistency.MetaphysicsNow

    Such people are irrational and ok with it. If enough people are ok with being irrational, then being irrational becomes the accepted known norm...

    That's a dangerous place. Banno has said on several occasions that the problem with "Anything goes" is that "Anything stays"... That has never seemed more relevant than today...
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