Location

University of Windsor

Document Type

Paper

Start Date

6-6-2007 9:00 AM

End Date

9-6-2007 5:00 PM

Abstract

Why is there so much distortion in ordinary, political, social, and ethical argument? Since we have a pervasive interest in reasoning well and corresponding abilities, the extent of distortion invites explanation. The leading candidates are the need to economize, widespread, fallacious heuristics or assumptions, and self-defensive biases. I argue that these are not sufficient. An additional force is the intellectual pressure generated by acceptance of norms of conversation and argument, which exclude ‘middles’ of, prominently, neither accept (believe) nor reject (disbelieve). I conjecture that the distortion we find is due to intellectual and normative pressures generated by our commitment to these excluded-middle norms and if, or when, their force is lessened, there is likely to be less distortion.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Patrick Francken, Commentary on Adler

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Patrick Francken, Commentary on Adler (June 2007)

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Jun 6th, 9:00 AM Jun 9th, 5:00 PM

Distortion and Excluded Middles

University of Windsor

Why is there so much distortion in ordinary, political, social, and ethical argument? Since we have a pervasive interest in reasoning well and corresponding abilities, the extent of distortion invites explanation. The leading candidates are the need to economize, widespread, fallacious heuristics or assumptions, and self-defensive biases. I argue that these are not sufficient. An additional force is the intellectual pressure generated by acceptance of norms of conversation and argument, which exclude ‘middles’ of, prominently, neither accept (believe) nor reject (disbelieve). I conjecture that the distortion we find is due to intellectual and normative pressures generated by our commitment to these excluded-middle norms and if, or when, their force is lessened, there is likely to be less distortion.