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Are You Against … Everything Good?

  /   Sunday November 20, 2022  

It’s often fun for me to go an analyze a particular idea thoroughly. Today, I’m going to have some fun with one that is kind of a pet peeve of mine, and it’s something that you can be trapped in by someone pushing a particular idea. It’s the fallacy of thinking that, if someone is against a particular program or method of doing something, then someone must be against doing that which the particular program or idea is supposed to accomplish.

Let’s just imagine that someone wants to reduce funding for a certain workplace safety program. Suddenly, people make emotional pleas asking not to cut the funding because workplaces will be come super dangerous if this program is cut. Finally, they argue that the people trying to cut this program don’t care about the safety of people in their jobs.

When these arguments are heard, one must be really careful of what conclusion one draws. Someone can be very concerned about job safety and still want to reduce funding to the program for a number of reasons. Perhaps one person thinks the program has enough money to operate and does not need more (or is making poor use of their funds). Maybe another believes that the program will not be an effective program for improving workplace safety. Still another may believe that the program is impossible to implement in its current state. Yet still another may believe that there won’t be measures in place to assess whether the program is effective, and it will continue to run and to receive funding forever despite no one knowing if it is doing anything useful.

While one may argue that such people should come up with an alternative if they care about workplace safety, it’s possible that, at present, the opportunity to do so has not arisen. Others may decide that lack of safety in the workplace is not a problem in a given place or time or that the owners of companies will take adequate measures on their own. Maybe the program being presented is such that doing nothing is better than trying to implement this particular program. When it comes to government or academic programs, I believe that is often the case.

You can substitute a number of things for workplace safety and do the same exercise, like education, public transportation, aid to the needy, or pretty much any organization that may not be doing its job effectively (or at all). You can also substitute, for funding, something like an e-mail campaign. I got tired of being blasted by e-mails by candidates whom I voted for or would have voted for had they been on my ballot.

So, this is a good thing to remember when making an argument. Get to the point of what the other person believes. Ask for specifics and debate those. Granted, some people are guided by emotion more than reason, but at least you are coming from a more sound and more charitable position.

Category: Social Commentary

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