The Epidemic of Passable Arguments

When an organization claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, it is a ‘state.’ The state is violence.

That argument, originating from Max Weber in ‘Politics as a Vocation‘ [PDF] isn’t wrong. The argument itself, and the lecture it originates from is a well-formulated description of and perspective on politics. If you argue on the premise that the state is a monopoly on violence, your argument won’t fall apart. But it may have a precarious balance.

Give the video below by Nerdwriter a watch. It’s about movies that might be good.. but not really. They do everything right, but they don’t connect. What Nerdwriter sees in movies, is also in arguments for libertarianism.


Curing Bias with Curiosity

I Want To Believe‘It is so disagreeable to think ill of ourselves, that we often purposely turn away our view from those circumstances which might render that judgment unfavorable.’ -Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

If you haven’t read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments go get it right now. It’s an extraordinary, and widely unknown piece of art chalked full of useful wisdom. I’d say Adam Smith has Ben Franklin easily beat in the realm of advice to help you live life to the fullest.

Adam Smith’s advice in that quote is one of those cliches that we all know, but never take into consideration when it’s most needed. It’s one of those cliches that science has proven effects us all, and yet we still fall into it without batting an eye.

What Adam Smith was talking about is now known as motivated reasoning. Motivated reasoning is something we use to justify and mitigate cognitive dissonance. “…rather than search for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.” (Steven Hoffman)

As MIT researchers explain it, motivated reasoning is “…a form of implicit regulation in which the brain converges on judgments that minimize negative and maximize positive affect states associated with threat to or attainment of motives.”

To simplify all of that, motivated reasoning is when you ignore information that goes against your beliefs whether you realize it or not. (more…)

Persuasion Through Moral Arguments

Moral Foundation Theory - Political CampsChoosing the lesser of evils, whether in voting or in philosophical decision making, is a point of contention. Do you stick to your principles? Or do you stray from them for the sake of persuasion?

There is no right or wrong answer. But research shows that we must compromise on our own ideas if we want to convince people of our ideas. It’s a counter-intuitive way of thinking, but once you start to understand it, it becomes natural.


7 Ways to Win An Argument Online

ChangeMyView Difference Between Winning and Losing Arguments

Source: Winning Arguments

In a previous post, “The Image Problem and It’s Solution,” I went over some important issues within the libertarian community that creates the image problem it has with the general public. I went over some important cognitive biases and heuristics that degrade ones ability to explain and sell libertarianism to a “non-believer.” I then concluded with two key factors for having successful conversations about libertarianism and anarchy. Theory of mind; understanding that other people have unique beliefs, desires, and intentions different than your own, which are based on rational thought. And deep canvassing; a style of real world conversation that studies have shown is most effective in changing peoples minds on any given topic.

Since then, I’ve come across a great study titled, “Winning Arguments: Interaction Dynamics and Persuasion Strategies in Good-faith Online Discussions.”


The Image Problem and Its Solution

They say if you’re going to criticize something, unless you intend to do so out of cynicism or disrespect, to be prepared to answer those criticisms with solutions. I’ve offered simple alternatives in lieu of the criticisms of “ambush interviews” and Robin Hooding. But there is a bigger problem I want to point out. One that goes deeper than a few alternatives. One that I’ve struggled to pinpoint in a clear, single ‘pitch.’ Libertarianism has an image problem. An image problem that stunts recruitment and creates a bad taste in people’s mouths when they’re presented with good ideas. That problem doesn’t stem from its principles, and it doesn’t stem from state propaganda or brainwashing. It stems from libertarian culture. The way we think and act. Rather than just complaining, I want to attempt to go over a bit of scientific research and some intellectual ideas to explain that problem. At the very least, you may learn about something you’ve never heard before. At best, you’ll be challenged, maybe even offended, but in a way that promotes growth.

Contest is a part of human life everywhere that human life is found. In war and in games, in work and in play, physically, intellectually, and morally, human beings match themselves with or against one another. Struggle appears inseparable from human life, and contest is a particular focus or mode of interpersonal struggle, an opposition that can be hostile but need not be, for certain kinds of contest may serve to sublimate and dissolve hostilities and to build friendship and cooperation. -Walter J. Ong, Fighting For Life