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Re: Summary of the debian-devel BoF at Debconf9

On Wed, 19 Aug 2009, Ben Finney wrote:
> "Bernhard R. Link" <brlink@debian.org> writes:
> > * Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au> [090818 11:28]:
> > > Perhaps you have a better way of succinct terms to use when
> > > challenging those logical fallacies?
> >
> > I think succinct terms help not at all here. Once there is a succinct
> > term 90% of their use is name-calling.

+1 on the whole message of Bernhard R. Link. You can nitpick details but
I agree with the global reasoning.

> > If people think something is wrong they should say what is wrong and
> > not invoce some name.
> Your distinction is lost on me; pointing out that someone has presented
> a logical fallacy *is* saying what is wrong. That we have succinct
> labels with well-established meanings serves to more quickly communicate
> what is wrong, which I would think is pleasing to you.

Pointing out that one is doing a logical fallacy does not help
the discussion. We all have our own paradigms to interpret arguments
and there's no better common paradigm. Trying to impose one's paradigm
to the whole list is what is causing us troubles.

You don't have to agree with someone who is doing a logical fallacy.
You also don't have to convince him that he's doing it. You can point it
once in public and stop responding. If you really want to convince that
person, please do so privately.

> To point out what is wrong *without* using the well-known terms for
> common fallacies surely leads to more volume of discussion devoted to
> that, which is what I thought you were trying to avoid.

This reasoning is purely theoretical. Using well known terms without
explaining why you believe that this is the case here, leads to
incomprehension, wich leads to answers, which leads to more mails.

We de not care if one mail is 200% bigger than what it could have been if
it avoids 5 replies in a sub-thread.

> > But I think it would much help if the replies on the lists itself are
> > about the topic, and not diverting into what are valid or invalid
> > forms to produce arguments.
> As Manoj has pointed out (better than I did earlier), to *name* a
> fallacious argument is merely to point out clearly that the discussion
> has *already* gone off-topic, and is best interpreted as a request that
> the off-topic digression be terminated quickly.

It's not necessarily off-topic, it's just an argument that you don't share
and that you can't refute because it's based on the personal feeling of
someone else.

Stating out that it's a logical fallacy will not change the feeling
held by that person and will not bring the discussion further. Concentrate
on parts that can be discussed and on parts where you can agree and stop
obsessing logical fallacies.

Manoj has a tendency to impose that all discussions must only be
fact-based. While I agree that arguing should be mostly fact-based I don't
see a good reason to forbid people to also express their feelings.

> > I guess that is a reason why those "succinct" terms are so often used
> > to throw them againt people like names-calling.
> I think your guess is wrong.

I think your reasoning is wrong.

Raphaël Hertzog

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