Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Strength of Claims

One aspect of argumentation with those we disagree with is balancing strength of arguments. A strong claim requires strong evidence and a weak claim requires less evidence.

An example of a very strong claim might be, "[insert name] views on Paul's letters are very dangerous." This is a very strong claim which should be used very cautiously and requires great evidence.

A weaker version might be, "[insert same name] views on Paul's letters seem somewhat doubtful." This is a far weaker claim which requires less evidence and could be used less cautiously.

You see the second version has more charity and if the claim is wrong the dangerousness of it is low. The first claim is actually itself very dangerous if the claim fails the accuracy test.

And the issue with a critique is if the critique itself is wrong then the critique is dangerous. Often this is why I prefer to critique ideas rather than people.

You can find hundreds, thousands, or millions of people who hold an idea you critique. But the second I critique a certain person's views I must have great accuracy in understanding their views.

Sometimes I might write and be thinking of a certain thinker when I write a critique of a view. But if I have misunderstood that speaker and I have not named the thinker there are many other thinkers who the critique fits. If only one person in the whole world held the view it would not be worth the effort to write about in general anyway.
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