• unenlightened
    4.7k
    Everyone agrees with them, and yet think their interlocutors are the ones not adhering to the rules, it's always the other party being unreasonable. So 'the rules' do not, in fact, manage to specify anything useful,Isaac

    I wrote a long convoluted answer to you, and then realised that what you say is simply not true. Anyone can be self-critical, and most people are to some extent. some people are more fair-minded than others. If you think it is always the other chap, then you are part of the problem, but by flagging up the danger you illustrate how it can be overcome.
  • Isaac
    2.2k
    I wrote a long convoluted answer to you, and then realised that what you say is simply not true.unenlightened

    So you're not going to either "[ask] me for expansion, justification an so on", nor "[admit] [y]our fallibility", nor "treat others as equals by laying things out clearly, and giving explanations and references as appropriate", nor "[be] willing to reconsider in the light of the discussion".

    Just going to tell me I'm wrong in a single sentence. We're three exchanges in to our disagreement and already you're either breaking your own rules or you've decided that I'm so outside of the pale that I'm not worth engaging with in the spirit of resolving conflict.

    I disagree that most people are self critical (effectively so), Whilst I agree that some people are more fair-minded than others, I disagree with the implication that our judgement of this property is sufficiently objective not to just create our own echo chamber. I disagree that simply flagging up the danger is sufficient to illustrate how it can be overcome.

    So how do we proceed to resolve those disagreements if you're already at the stage where potentially mutually-respectful in-depth answers are already being discarded in favour of unsupported declarations of what is and is not the case?

    I'm not clear on which part you disagree with, perhaps we could start there. All I'm saying is that if everyone agrees with 'the rules' and yet there are still invoked as evidence of unreasonableness then 'the rules' must underdetermine. Are you disagreeing with the fact that most people agree with the rules, or are you disagreeing with the fact that they are regularly invoked as evidence of unreasonableness?
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    Just going to tell me I'm wrong in a single sentence. We're three exchanges in to our disagreement and already you're either breaking your own rules or you've decided that I'm so outside of the pale that I'm not worth engaging with in the spirit of resolving conflict.Isaac

    Sorry, I didn't realise we had a conflict going; I thought we were discussing. I'll lay it out in a bit more detail. There is a deal of literature one this stuff - 'cognitive bias'.

    What I understand you to be saying is that everyone agrees the rules of engagement, and everyone always thinks they obey them and the other chap is at fault. I agree that the rules are widely agreed, and I agree that there is a widespread tendency to think it is the other chap that has a problem. But not always. The fact that thou and I have acknowledged the tendency is part of our resistance to it.

    I disagree that most people are self critical (effectively so), Whilst I agree that some people are more fair-minded than others, I disagree with the implication that our judgement of this property is sufficiently objective not to just create our own echo chamber. I disagree that simply flagging up the danger is sufficient to illustrate how it can be overcome.Isaac

    This is not a disagreement you have with me, because I agree with you. Flagging up the danger is not sufficient, but it is a sign of awareness of the problem, and the first step. There are no guarantees.

    So how do we proceed to resolve those disagreements if you're already at the stage where potentially mutually-respectful in-depth answers are already being discarded in favour of unsupported declarations of what is and is not the case?Isaac

    We cannot, in such a case. The whole thrust of my argument is that conflicts cannot always be resolved, and it at least takes a willingness to engage and attempt to be fair-minded in the knowledge that it does not come naturally.

    But my style in the previous post was predicated on an assumption of agreement that I now see was mistaken. When we are in our echo-chamber, we can pass over what we agree without comment, and focus on where there seems to be a lack of clarity, or disagreement. I like to converse with naivety. You ask a question, and I do not look for a trap, but try to answer. But now you are moving towards at least an accusation of hypocrisy, so perhaps it is time to ask you, if you disagree with my proposals, to bring forth your better ones.
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    Let me ask my own challenging question - to anyone who cares to consider it.

    If we resolve our conflicts, have we produced an echo chamber?
  • Isaac
    2.2k
    The fact that thou and I have acknowledged the tendency is part of our resistance to it.unenlightened

    Possibly, but if we were resisting it would others not notice this? Yet others accuse us of being the ones who are not abiding by the rules. So the other possibility arises that we are instead using our acknowledgement of this tendency to cut short disagreement simply to preserve our own beliefs. That's what I'm suggesting is a more universally applicable explanation for the phenomena.

    Flagging up the danger is not sufficient, but it is a sign of awareness of the problem, and the first step.unenlightened

    See above. It depends heavily whether flagging up the danger is used as a tool to preserve one's own world view, or as tool for self-improvement. As you say, there are no guarantees. I think we only perhaps disagree as to scale not in any absolute sense. I see 'the rules' being far more often used as ready means of dismissing uncomfortable arguments than as the intellectual hygiene @fdrake rightly advises.

    I should clarify, I'm talking about conflicting beliefs here, not necessarily the verbal progress of arguments. Prefacing every proposition with "I might be wrong but..." is just a obsequious nod if one never turns out to be.

    The whole thrust of my argument is that conflicts cannot always be resolved, and it at least takes a willingness to engage and attempt to be fair-minded in the knowledge that it does not come naturally.unenlightened

    I agree with the first half, but my argument is essentially that the second half underdetermines. No-one thinks they've not not been willing to engage, no one thinks they're not fair-minded, and no one thinks this doesn't result from hard work on their part. But if we are to dismiss people from our discursive environment on the grounds of rule-breaking behaviour, some of them must be wrong about that. Is their wrongness something we can stand on (like the fact that the earth is round), or their wrongness just another disagreement we have, in which case identifying it hasn't helped us resolve the conflict at all.

    if you disagree with my proposals, to bring forth your better ones.unenlightened

    Fair enough. I think appeals to vague concepts such as 'fair-mindedness' and 'honest engagement' cause more problems than they solve by distracting from the actual point of dispute to dispute about those terms. They should be avoided. I do think, however, that some of the rules can be very useful - have you supplied support for empirical claims, have you taken care to review alternative hypotheses, have you at least attempted to supply an argument for your position, have you asked for clarification before dismissing other's arguments.

    These are all demonstrable in written or otherwise recorded discussions.

    By and large though, I think most disputes are settled by demonstration, not by debate. Debate is largely a pass time, not a resolution method.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    So you're not going to either "[ask] me for expansion, justification an so on", nor "[admit] [y]our fallibility", nor "treat others as equals by laying things out clearly, and giving explanations and references as appropriate", nor "[be] willing to reconsider in the light of the discussion".

    Just going to tell me I'm wrong in a single sentence. We're three exchanges in to our disagreement and already you're either breaking your own rules or you've decided that I'm so outside of the pale that I'm not worth engaging with in the spirit of resolving conflict.
    Isaac
    Now you're having the same problem I had, and many others have had with unenlightened.

    I'm not supporting Harry's position here (I disagree with it quite strongly in fact)Isaac
    Oh wait, you did the same thing you are accusing of unenlightened is doing.

    The common thread is that those that have disagreed with me have ended up contradicting themselves (their own rules).
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    More rhetorical questions. And very silly questions too. Of course in a discussion one brings in terms that were not in the op. Terms like "logic" for example. And no, an authoritarian does not cease to be an authoritarian because people ignore him. So yet again your rhetoric doesn't even disagree with what I have said. You claim logic, but you cannot construct an argument of your own or understand one when presented with it. Make an argument Harry, I dare you. Or link to an argument you have made in this thread. So us this all powerful logic you possess.unenlightened
    According to your statements in other threads on other topics, I don't need to show anything except express that is how I feel.

    I feel logical. You say that I am illogical. That it offensive to me. Maybe I'm a logical person inside an illogical body. You need to address me as I wish, and I wish to be addressed as, "Logical".
  • fdrake
    3.6k
    I see 'the rules' being far more often used as ready means of dismissing uncomfortable arguments than as the intellectual hygiene fdrake rightly advises.Isaac

    Happens in arguments all the time. We get hung up on flaws in our opponent's position and for some reason heuristically treat that as confirmation of our own. Critique for its own sake is always valuable, critique to bolster what remains unarticulated can sometimes be stifling or dangerous.

    (11) Do not hang back and simply ask questions; if you position yourself always as the critic and the cynic, you can bolster your own beliefs simply by rejecting all others - and it is much easier to show a flaw or falsify than to get a good picture of something or confirm. Do not let the asymmetry in difficulty between justification and falsification be a reason your beliefs never change; all doubt is done within a motivating context - a frame - which can, itself, be more or less occlusive or productive to generating well justified beliefs regarding the matter at hand.

    But if we are to dismiss people from our discursive environment on the grounds of rule-breaking behaviour, some of them must be wrong about that. Is their wrongness something we can stand on (like the fact that the earth is round), or their wrongness just another disagreement we have, in which case identifying it hasn't helped us resolve the conflict at all.Isaac

    If we resolve our conflicts, have we produced an echo chamber?unenlightened

    There's a certain amount of vulnerability involved in discussions that actually change how people think. I mean, we have them with our partners (or, ideally, should be able to); I've realised I've been an arse for reasons that were hitherto that moment beyond my comprehension due to a strong emotional reaction or castigation a lot. A performative demonstration of the effects of my commitments or lack of care. I've had that a lot when seriously studying something; like, reading a book, taking notes, finding secondary literature; but a lot less in debates and discussions.

    I think there's quite a lot of value in hearing "you're not playing by my rules", or such frustrations, as an invitation; in the same way we'd (I'd?) treat a partner's anger. That requires rather a lot of emotional and cognitive work to do so though, and even then isn't always worth the effort.
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    I think appeals to vague concepts such as 'fair-mindedness' and 'honest engagement' cause more problems than they solve by distracting from the actual point of dispute to dispute about those terms. They should be avoided.Isaac

    You could be right, but I think differently. We haven't resolved that conflict, so neither of us has demonstrated our method successfully.
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    I feel logical. You say that I am illogical. That it offensive to me.Harry Hindu

    Yes, I realise that. I'm sorry it offends, and I wish it did not. I don't suppose you want to hear anything much from me, but I wonder if you think that feelings are logical? If I feel attractive, I might have good evidence in the way the girls swoon around me, or I might just be flattering myself. When someone calls me ugly, I'm offended because I feel attractive.

    I know I have all sorts of feelings and very easily take offence, and I know that these feelings have a major effect on the way I respond. I think everyone is sensitive like that, everyone is not entirely logical, but also emotional. I think philosophers and scientists forget this at their peril.

    You have suggested strongly that one cannot argue against logic except by employing logic. So I accept this, and suggest back to you that you never need to defend logic, since it can never be attacked.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    I think everyone is sensitive like that, everyone is not entirely logical, but also emotional.unenlightened
    That sounds logical. :up:
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    There's a certain amount of vulnerability involved in discussions that actually change how people think. I mean, we have them with our partners (or, ideally, should be able to); I've realised I've been an arse for reasons that were hitherto that moment beyond my comprehension due to a strong emotional reaction or castigation a lot. A performative demonstration of the effects of my commitments or lack of care. I've had that a lot when seriously studying something; like, reading a book, taking notes, finding secondary literature; but a lot less in debates and discussions.fdrake

    I have had discussions that have changed the way I think less than I would like, but more than once, and more than once someone has told me that a discussion has changed their thinking. So I know that communication is possible, and I know it is difficult, and uncertain.

    Vulnerability is exactly the right idea, I think. One discovers that one was wrong, that one was not good, or logical or clever, or honest or whatever virtue one had awarded oneself by way of identity, and one is wounded. A good friend, or a good lover, is not afraid to wound one the way a surgeon does, and a good friend can be trusted to do so when necessary. We fight; we are wounded; and if our egos are well pruned, they will bear more fruit.
  • Isaac
    2.2k
    (11) Do not hang back and simply ask questions; if you position yourself always as the critic and the cynic, you can bolster your own beliefs simply by rejecting all others - and it is much easier to show a flaw or falsify than to get a good picture of something or confirm.fdrake

    I've made over 2,000 comments and not started a single thread. I think number 11 is my Achilles heel.

    There's a certain amount of vulnerability involved in discussions that actually change how people think.fdrake

    Yeah, the problem, I think, is no matter what the mode of the discussion, the underlying subject matter is still some conflicting belief about the world and such beliefs are updated reluctantly (to say the least) so there's some lag between the mode of communication (discursive, emotional, logical, persuasive...) and the effect those methods should have. In that time you kind of know you're wrong, but are still looking around for ways to avoid that pain. That's essentially what I mean by suggesting we avoid many of the more vague 'rules of engagement'. They're simply too tempting at that fragile stage. Also your interlocutor knows you should know you're wrong ("that should have worked!") and are sometimes frustrated at the delay. I certainly learnt that one with my children, don't push for the admission of wrongness... just wait.


    I think there's quite a lot of value in hearing "you're not playing by my rules", or such frustrations, as an invitation; in the same way we'd (I'd?) treat a partner's anger.fdrake

    I think I understand what you're saying here, that, like a partner's anger, we can interpret the expression as "I'm not having that kind of discussion" like realising that when your partner is having a discussion about your not having done the dishes, it is not appropriate to ask for supporting evidence (learnt that one the hard way).
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    We haven't resolved that conflict, so neither of us has demonstrated our method successfully.unenlightened
    When someone keeps contradicting themselves when asked to clarify their beliefs, how are we suppose to know whether we are disagreeing or agreeing on anything?

    It seems like the first step would be to clarify each of our beliefs in such a way that the other side can determine whether we are actually agreeing or disagreeing.
  • remoku
    29
    I may read this thread word for word, and decide what's right and wrong.

    All I require is apt sense, reinforced by knowledge.

    I can then apply that, as a judge, or not apply that, as a silent witness.

    2+2=4, ledgibly, but this can be argued against only by people with an apt sense of the matter.

    I'm sure the idea that 2+2=4 is false (by some sense), exists.

    I can tell if most people are wrong but I'm very wise..

    There is judgement mixed in with debating, person 1 and person 2 resolve through person 3 (apt judge) or person X (apt sense).
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    When someone keeps contradicting themselves when asked to clarify their beliefs, how are we suppose to know whether we are disagreeing or agreeing on anything?

    It seems like the first step would be to clarify each of our beliefs in such a way that the other side can determine whether we are actually agreeing or disagreeing.
    Harry Hindu

    Yes indeed. One of my very early suggestions was that to resolve a conflict we have to establish the conflict.
    if one is unable to begin this dialogue with an equality and an engagement that will look for first common ground and then for the detail of disagreement, then it all becomes impossible.unenlightened

    And again, later on.

    If I am not to be trusted in what I say, no amount of logic can resolve that. Our disagreement cannot even be expressed.unenlightened

    This is why I talk about wooly concepts like trust and respect. I cannot find a better way to express that necessary intention to find out what the other chap is saying, rather than to prove him wrong or contradictory regardless.

    If we discuss combatively, but also cooperatively, then no one loses because we are all on the side of truth and understanding. To be deprived of one's error is a privilege even if at times it is a painful and laborious process. And if we are not on all on the side of truth and understanding, then there is zero point in our talking at all. But now I am actually somewhat frightened, because I have been persuaded back to this discussion, and find myself saying the same things again and at least half expecting another four pages of the same back again.
  • fdrake
    3.6k
    hat's essentially what I mean by suggesting we avoid many of the more vague 'rules of engagement'. They're simply too tempting at that fragile stage. Also your interlocutor knows you should know you're wrong ("that should have worked!") and are sometimes frustrated at the delay. I certainly learnt that one with my children, don't push for the admission of wrongness... just wait.Isaac

    The thing about the interlocutor knowing they're wrong; I think that applies mostly when two people have implicitly accepted the same background rules for the discussion (or part of the discussion). If two people involved in the discussion disagree on what the matter they're discussing is, or what's especially significant about it (cognitively/factually or emotionally), in my experience I and my hypothetical interlocutors find that place of mutual understanding, even if the disagreement persists, much harder to reach.

    But I think what you're saying's otherwise very true. To check if we're on the same page, I think a paradigmatic instance of it that we see on the internet a lot is those one line fisking posts that just say the name of a fallacy. It's little more than gainsaying with Latin spices.

    Yes indeed. One of my very early suggestions was that to resolve a conflict we have to establish the conflict.unenlightened

    Which I think is consonant with what un's saying above.

    I think I understand what you're saying here, that, like a partner's anger, we can interpret the expression as "I'm not having that kind of discussion" like realising that when your partner is having a discussion about your not having done the dishes, it is not appropriate to ask for supporting evidence (learnt that one the hard way).Isaac

    I actually had a similar conversation with an ex!

    I guess maybe the intersection of all these things is the problem: what strategies can be used to ensure that people cultivate being responsive to their interlocutors? Maybe it's a question of intellectual sensitivity; how can I make my thought formation process sensitive and relevant to yours, and vice versa?
  • creativesoul
    8.1k


    I'm compelled to make a better attempt at building a bridge of mutual understanding.

    Please know that my participation here is all about one thing... Attempting to figure out if it is actually possible to acquire knowledge of how to best discriminate between competing/conflicting opinions.

    Given that the thread is about conflict resolution, and you and I have not been communicating our thoughts as clearly and concisely as I think we are both capable of doing, I'm making this deliberate atttempt because we may not be as far apart as it may seem. As Banno tends to say, and rightly so, we agree on far more than we disagree.

    I'm thinking of this post as an attempt at a fresh start built upon pre-existing agreement(s). Let's bring some into view. That seems as good a path as any. So...

    Here's a good list of proposed agreements to form a basis for better discussion.

    1 Some conflicts get resolved.
    2 Sometimes the audience members are uncertain which side to believe(assuming two different opinions/narratives/explanations for the same events).

    Do we agree that the two statements above report upon two remarkably different situations, consisting of remarkably different things?

    :smile:

    P.S.

    The irony of my misspelling the word "attempt" during an attempt...

    :nerd:
  • Isaac
    2.2k
    If two people involved in the discussion disagree on what the matter they're discussing is, or what's especially significant about it (cognitively/factually or emotionally), in my experience I and my hypothetical interlocutors find that place of mutual understanding, even if the disagreement persists, much harder to reach.fdrake

    Yes, I think this is the case too, but (stop me if I'm getting too psychoanalytical) there's an advantage there - in terms of game theory - to a person wishing to avoid cognitive dissonance but with low confidence in their belief. If they clearly present the nature of the disagreement and the terms of the argument (the mode it will take) then if they eventually have to admit they were wrong, they know the other person will know that earlier than they themselves would feel comfortable changing their belief. Muddy the waters regarding terms of the discussion and you buy yourself time to change a belief if necessary without it being clear to all that you're wrong.

    I think a paradigmatic instance of it that we see on the internet a lot is those one line fisking posts that just say the name of a fallacy. It's little more than gainsaying with Latin spices.fdrake

    Yeah, I hate that, like we're playing 'name that fallacy'. The other is 'you obviously haven't read...' as if merely reading a text imparts automatic agreement.

    what strategies can be used to ensure that people cultivate being responsive to their interlocutors?fdrake

    This is key, and it's worth emphasising that it's far from natural so it will take work. We've created a game here 'having a discussion' which is made up out of a set of tools 'using language' which were - according to popular theory - not even created for the job.

    I think your initial posts covered a lot of good ground that is measurable and can act in a self-regulatory way, for those who actually care in the first place. But I think principles like charitable interpretation, honest representation and a collective agreement about the goal are also really important, it's just that they're too open to abuse (anyone can claim 'foul' on such broad concepts for nefarious advantage, like tripping in the box to get a free kick), and I'm including inadvertent abuse to avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance here, so I'm talking about self-regulation, not regulation of others. So I think any solution will involve pinning down ways of more clearly defining these nebulous concepts.

    To that end, I quite like this;

    to find out what the other chap is saying, rather than to prove him wrong or contradictory regardless.unenlightened

    This we can recognise. How much of one's interaction is composed of questions? How many times the word 'wrong' has been used? How frequent a reference to what is 'true'? These could act as useful triggers, I think.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    Yes indeed. One of my very early suggestions was that to resolve a conflict we have to establish the conflict.unenlightened
    If I am not to be trusted in what I say, no amount of logic can resolve that. Our disagreement cannot even be expressed.unenlightened
    if one is unable to begin this dialogue with an equality and an engagement that will look for first common ground and then for the detail of disagreement, then it all becomes impossible.unenlightened
    Exactly. The common ground is logic. If you refuse to use it, then there is no point in us having a discussion as I would never be able to understand your position to assert that I either agree or disagree.

    Accusing people of being authoritarian simply for making assertions, which we all do on this forum, is an ad hom, hypocritical, and isn't a good way to start things off when attempting to find some common ground.

    That is the point here, that with you, creativesoul and Pantagruel, I haven't been able to make heads or tails of your arguments because they end up contradicting something else you said before. So, as it stands right now, I can't tell you whether any of us agree or disagree on anything we've "discussed".

    As Banno tends to say, and rightly so, we agree on far more than we disagree.creativesoul
    Well, maybe Banno can explain how we know that we are talking about the same thing, and not talking past each other, when we disagree.

    I'm thinking of this post as an attempt at a fresh start built upon pre-existing agreement(s). Let's bring some into view. That seems as good a path as any. So...creativesoul
    The fresh start would be in addressing how we can disagree or agree on anything if what was said before contradicts what is said now?

    If you can't be consistent in your explanations of your own beliefs, then it seems that you are unable to identify your actual beliefs.

    Here's a good list of proposed agreements to form a basis for better discussion.

    1 Some conflicts get resolved.
    2 Sometimes the audience members are uncertain which side to believe(assuming two different opinions/narratives/explanations for the same events).

    Do we agree that the two statements above report upon two remarkably different situations, consisting of remarkably different things?
    creativesoul
    Sure. But in (2) how do we know that the two different opinions are about the same thing?
  • unenlightened
    4.7k
    The common ground is logic.Harry Hindu

    I don't think I want to go round again, even if you do.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    Yeah, I hate that, like we're playing 'name that fallacy'.Isaac

    You might think it a game, but I don't consider making logical fallacies a game. If you consider a philosophical discussion a game, then that is probably a good indicator that we aren't going to find any common ground.

    If it makes you hate less, then use the term category error, as virtually any logical fallacy is a category error.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    I don't think I want to go round again, even if you do.unenlightened

    If you read the reply, the first word was, "Exactly.", as in "I agree".

    We both agreed that in order to determine whether or not we actually agree or disagree, we'd have to establish an understanding of each other's position. We would ask each other questions about each other's beliefs to see how it fits in with the rest of what we know (integration). If those questions receive contradictory answers to what they asserted before, then how can one come to understand such a belief?

    So we do agree on some things. It is only when I say a particular five-letter word, "logic", that your panties get all tied into a knot.

    Logic is a field of philosophy that sets the rules for correct thinking in all the other fields of philosophy. Why would you not want to integrate the conclusions from all fields into a consistent whole?

    The interesting thing to note here is that when we agreed, we were both being logical. Neither of us contradicted ourselves in understanding the distinction between agreeing and disagreeing, or that what were both talking about was the same thing - the process of determining whether or not an agreement or disagreement is taking place.
  • unenlightened
    4.7k


    Harry, will you do me a favour?

    Stop quoting me. It disturbs my peace of mind.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    Here's a good list of proposed agreements to form a basis for better discussion.

    1 Some conflicts get resolved.
    2 Sometimes the audience members are uncertain which side to believe(assuming two different opinions/narratives/explanations for the same events).

    Do we agree that the two statements above report upon two remarkably different situations, consisting of remarkably different things?
    — creativesoul
    Sure. But in (2) how do we know that the two different opinions are about the same thing?
    Harry Hindu
    I'm going to go ahead answer this question myself since no one has been able to answer it without contradicting themselves.

    The answer is that in disagreeing we aren't talking about the same thing - ever. We may use the same scribbles or sounds to refer to something, but it's not the same thing in each of our heads when we disagree. The implication here is that one is right and the other is wrong, or that we are both wrong and still not talking about the same thing in each other's mind.

    Now the question is, how do we determine which is right and which is wrong, or if they are both wrong and there is some other option that is "best to believe"? Which statement is closest to a 1 to 1 correspondence with the actual state of affairs of what is best to believe? My answer, and several other answers in different forms but were all referring to the same thing, was "logic".

    At least that is what I thought, because I thought that what fdrake and I were referring to was the same thing - logic, and I was confused when I received a contradictory response from creativesoul. They would have never contradicted themselves if they simply let my assertion stand without any rebuttal.
  • fdrake
    3.6k
    Yes, I think this is the case too, but (stop me if I'm getting too psychoanalytical) there's an advantage there - in terms of game theory - to a person wishing to avoid cognitive dissonance but with low confidence in their belief. If they clearly present the nature of the disagreement and the terms of the argument (the mode it will take) then if they eventually have to admit they were wrong, they know the other person will know that earlier than they themselves would feel comfortable changing their belief. Muddy the waters regarding terms of the discussion and you buy yourself time to change a belief if necessary without it being clear to all that you're wrong.Isaac

    Vulnerability is exactly the right idea, I think. One discovers that one was wrong, that one was not good, or logical or clever, or honest or whatever virtue one had awarded oneself by way of identity, and one is wounded. A good friend, or a good lover, is not afraid to wound one the way a surgeon does, and a good friend can be trusted to do so when necessary. We fight; we are wounded; and if our egos are well pruned, they will bear more fruit.unenlightened

    So these two threads of the discussion strike me as two sides of the same thing. I don't know what they're two sides of, but I'm very convinced they're the same thing.

    Side (1): Setting out one's claims defeasibly; paying attention to what would make you wrong, not just what makes you right. Writing so that the link between your claims and your motivation for having them is clear.

    Side (2): Putting one's beliefs and identity at risk when arguing. Being not just open to, but enthusiastically pursuing, sites of tension in one's beliefs and identity as revealed in communication with the other.

    It strikes me that writing in manner (1) requires willingness to engage in manner (2).

    It also strikes me that it's easier to cultivate side (1) habits than side (2) habits. I base that on there being some general principles which can be written down, and some heuristics, like:

    Being able to state what it would take for me to be wrong.
    Being able to describe the connections between my claims in a somewhat neutral manner; why does x follow from y, and in what way does it follow?
    Being able to describe the motivating context for my engagement.

    that are relatively easy to understand in the context of side (1).

    But, that "being able to describe the motivating context for my engagement" looks to me to be bleeding into side (2), often when I post on here I'm bringing baggage; intellectual and emotional; to the discussion. The things that motivate me to respond aren't just intellectual; they're aesthetic and emotional. Like when I correct someone who's doing mathematics really badly but being obstinate about their correctness; it strikes me as wrong cognitively, but also it's somehow a violation of my identity.

    I speculate that there are motivational/emotional analogues of hinge propositions; statements and motivating contexts which are archetypical of my identity, and my attachment to those statements is very strong and very hard to revise. A hinge proposition is (roughly) an epistemic device that must be believed in order to have a discussion, but phrased as a statement; like "There is a world outside my mind". It is not something which can be doubted without doing considerable violence to how one makes sense of the world.

    It seems to me that there are analogues to that regarding my identity insofar as it intersects with intellectual commitments; there are things I must believe to make sense of the world in the way I do. Someone who appears not to operate under those assumptions will simultaneously be judged by me to be wrong intellectually, but I'll condemn the belief to distance myself from it to save myself doing emotional work or to otherwise preserve my belief structure as it is.

    That condemning might occur when a core belief; something strongly connected in my network of beliefs; is being challenged. Challenged in the manner that if I were to accept it, I wouldn't just have to change my mind or admit that I believed something falsely, I would also have to change how I think and thus what I believe about myself.

    Is that consonant with what you're both saying?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    Harry, will you do me a favour?

    Stop quoting me. It disturbs my peace of mind.
    unenlightened

    You do realize that you quoted me and referred to my statements first, which warrants a reply with the specific statements quoted. So, you're saying that you can quote me but I can't quote you?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    It seems to me that 1) entails 2).

    In doing 2) you are necessarily doing 1). If you question your own beliefs before exposing them to external criticism, then you are essentially putting your identity at risk, as you would be in the process of questioning what you actually believe is the right thing to believe.

    I questioning the other's beliefs, I was asking the same questions they should have asked themselves before presenting them to me. If their answers contradict what they said before, then it stands that they would have a contradictory identity.
  • unenlightened
    4.7k

    No. I'm saying that I am upset by our conversation, and I am asking you to please stop. I cannot oblige you to.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.2k
    It seems that I can never oblige you in any discussion we've had. So I am therefore asking you to please stop quoting me, because it is always an ad hom, emotionally and politically charged response.
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