On The Edge.
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On The Edge.

This may be a logical fallacy — I need to go back and check out "An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments" again.

In any case, I have been thinking the following recently:

When people present an argument or POV, I will take that to the extreme (I think that there might be a mathematical concept that does this; set x = 0). If they don't agree with that to the extreme, then why would the agree with it even a little bit?

I do understand, "It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice."

With that being said, I think it's a useful tool.

Some real world examples (I've just made up, not actually happened):

Just listen to public health officials about what to do regarding Covid and put your faith in them to do what they think is best for the public.

  • I'll respond about how blind faith in leaders / authorities is probably not a good thing.
  • I'll talk about how most of us probably would have been Nazis if we were in Germany (even though most people find it incredibly hard to believe that they would ever be a Nazi —> and if you don't believe me, read about the Milligram Experiments)

Identity Politics and Callout/Cancel Culture

  • If someone who supports that says something to me like "You're being a baby!" I might rebut and say, "Is that not offensive to babies?" They might retort and say, "It's only a joke!" but then why aren't the stuff they protest against only jokes?
  • I personally think context matters and it would be dumb for anyone to get upset over calling someone a baby but hopefully you get the idea.

Cancel Culture / Tearing Down Statues

  • Earlier this year I had read that students at one of the universities in Ottawa were protesting to take down Gandhi's statue. Apparently he had been a dick to people in South Africa, as well as women. I honestly don't know but it's probably true. Or that people don't like Hamilton the play anymore because Hamilton owned slaves.
  • It's not right what both these gentlemen did AND, at the same time, I think context matters (i.e. the culture and generation they lived in). I don't think we should completely get rid of Gandhi because he did some bad things; everyone does bad things and, also, he did some pretty incredible stuff too!
  • To these people, I might retort: imagine we are 200 years in the future and animals are no longer killed for meat; instead, humans grow meat in test tubes and no animals have to suffer.
    • Imagine that you, in our times, did very well and brought a lot of good into this world. But, in the future, society looks at us as savages for killing living animals and eating them. And, now, they want to tear down your statue because you ate meat.
    • What would you do in this scenario?

Written: November 16, 2020