[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Summary of the debian-devel BoF at Debconf9

On Wed, Aug 19 2009, Bernhard R. Link wrote:

> * Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> [090818 22:42]:
>> On Tue, Aug 18 2009, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
>> > * 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. If people think something is
>> > wrong they should say what is wrong and not invoce some name.
>>         If you want a full description of the logical fallacy in all
>>  replies, sure. The point is that the best refutation of a logical
>>  fallacy is to point out it is a logical fallacy, and thus, stop
>>   basing the rest of the discussion based on the logical fallacy.
> I'd prefer if on-topic would not be about who did "wrong", but stay at
> the facts.

        So, if someone went off-topic and introduced strawman arguments,
 or went and attacked a person, or said that some argument  should be
 discredited because of some character traits of another person, this
 should not be even pointed out because pointing out these things is off
 topic? Would this not encourage such behaviour? and let such arguments
 lie unchallenged in the archive?

> All those fallacies are easy enough that if they are really done, one
> can name the arguments (like noting that some arguments uttered are
> indeed arguments against what the person things was the topic at hand.
> But not against what was suggested/meant, because of...) or the lack
> thereof ("I fail to see why we cannot implement it only because the
> one suggesting has a bad character in your eyes").

        Sure. Just dropping names of logical fallacies without
 justifying why they fit a post in question. I have no argument with

>>         These attacks on people, as opposed to discussion of what they
>>  said, is one of the major reasons discussion threads devolve into
>>  unproductive chaos. We should be managing to police discussion better,
>>  and the first step is identifying that such a post has been made.
> My point is that if something like that is done, it should be done on
> another list. So that the discussion itself can continue and the meta-
> question at hand can be solved (Was that an unrelated attack to the
> person or not?). If that is in one thread, then it dilutes the
> discussion about the fact and the meta-point is opened at a place where
> people have other things to care about).

        The idea is not merely to correct the behaviour of the person
 who does these things, they are also to point out, and refute, these
 errors in logic. So, if theonly goal was to educate the poster, then
 doing so on another list/thread would suffice.

        But if the idea is to have a technical discussion, then the
 logical flaws need to be pointed out in the same discussion.

>>         Just callingit strawman with no justification is suboptimal, I
>>  agree. If you call something a strawman, you should also justify why it
>>  is so (like, you are argying against point A, which not one ever
>>  advocated, and you are ascribing to me positions I never took. This is
>>  a strawman).
> I think it is even better without the strawman at all. Everyone is

        It would be fantastic without the strawman arguents in the
 first place, yes.

> able to understand that arguing without having agreed what point is
> argued about does not work. Expressing your perceived difference of
> the points in discussion and why the arguments uttered are against the
> one but not the other, is something that will usually help the
> discussion and does not need any "fallacy" or "strawman".

        If the respondent points out why the post is a strawman
 argument, using the shorthand phrase "strawman" does not detract from
 the discussion, in my opinion.

> Because we should all be aware that the error could also be on our
> side.  Giving the arguments makes it easier for the other side to
> answer them and thus either to convice you or by making them answer
> them to make you see what they misunderstood so you can convice them.
> Adding the extra abstraction[1] of the "fallacy" adds more things to
> smear the discussion. Thus I think that naming the fallacy is only
> helpfull if you think the other person is doing it on purpose. And I
> think most will agree that with that accusation the discussion if
> escalated to a flamewar even it was not before.

        Hmm. I think we might actually be in agreement here; calling
 something a fallacy wthout describing why it is the case does have
 these drawbacks.

>>         But using the term, while also explaining why the term is valid,
>>  seems like a good thing. Without the rationale for using hte term, you
>>  are correct, it is just name calling.
> I think it has at most merits in a meta-discussion about whether some
> post was acceptable or not. I do not think it will help the discussion
> about the facts in my eyes, and only has potential for new discussions.
> (Take for example the discussion in the wikepedia-article about
> in what cases "You claim that this man is innocent, but you cannot be
> trusted since you are a criminal as well." is an ad-hominem and in which
> cases it is not).

        Well, if you are trying to just decide whether a post is
 acceptable or not, this would be fine. But what if you are also trying
 to keep the discussion on track by refuting logic errors? and not going
 down that path?

Custer committed Siouxicide.
Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>  
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

Reply to: