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Re: Social Committee proposal

On Tue, 30 Jan 2007 12:11:28 +0100, Bernhard R Link <brlink@debian.org> said: 

> * Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> [070130 06:48]:
>> > I think one should be careful with such a rule, as "ad hominem"
>> > is quite overused.
>> Argument against the man, as opposed to argument against the issue
>> being discussed is over used?

> I think the term is a bit overused. I hardly ever saw a strict
> "argumentum ad hominem" (in the sense of "Person A makes claim X;
> There is something objectionable about Person A; Therefore claim X
> is false") in Debian lists. When there is a discussion, two parties
> are involved. Arguing with a person is not ad hominem. Or if it is,
> then claiming the other person used argumentum ad hominem definitly
> is even more so.

        If you are using "argumentum ad hominem" to mean arguing with
 a person, then indeed you are misusing the term. That is not
 "argumentum ad hominem". That is just argumentum.

        Let us see. If someone brings up in a discussion about whether
 or not CONFIG_AUDIT_SYSCALL should be turned on or not by default,
 and says "You are a moron, You do not understand the subject, You are
 seeking to destroy Debian You never listen to people, You insulted me
 last christmas, you do not believe in god, and, YO MAMA WEARS ARMY
 BOOTS". Now _that_ is argumentum ad hominem"

        Bringing up a someones persona and character traits has no
 place in a  technical discussion.

> Sadly no discussion is entirely technically.

        This might be true in Debian mailing lists.

> Humans are involved with all their heart and emotions. And refuting
> an argument as stupidity is easily conveived as accusing of
> stupidity of the argumenter.

        No, and this is the heart of the matter: argue against the
 content, not the man. NOT THE MAN.

        One is to be promoted, the other is verboten.

> Such a problem easily escalates easily with the help of both
> parties.

        The soc ctte is being conceived to put an end to such an

> In such a situation one side often accuses the other of "ad
> hominem",

        And rightly so.

> which normaly is just used as try to "win by defining who is good
> and bad" instead of a try to rationalize or deescalating the
> situation.

        But the arguers are not defining what is good or bad. The saoc
 ctte is laying down a policy, and the soc ctte makes the decisions.
 So no justice in the hands of the perpetrator or the victim, the soc
 ctte is an independent entity.

>> > This gets especially exhausting if some discusions went into
>> > meta-discussions, as when the discussion is about what people
>> > just wrote in the discussion, where the issue at hand is the
>> > people discussing.
>> Such meta discussions, usually, are off topic, suck time, energy,
>> and attention away, and cause flame wars. Something I think we
>> should avoid.

> That's why I dislike the term "ad hominem".

        I think it is partially because your definition above seems
 to be incorrect.  Using the term as it was meant to be used removes
 most of the negatives.

> Where is appears the discussion is already at the meta level.

        Such meta discussions involving the personality and traits of
 the characters, rather than the subject under discussion, should be
 moved to another mailing list. Call it debian-flames.

> And usually at the calling names type of discussion, too. I thus
> think avoiding that catch phrase can only help.

        No, setting up the soc ctte to try to nipt hte thing at the
 bud is what helps, not some NEWSPEAK where Certain Words Are To Be

"Plan to throw one away.  You will anyway." Fred Brooks, "The Mythical
Man Month"
Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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