[ExI] Striving for Objectivity Across Different Cultures

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Aug 19 04:24:43 UTC 2008

Stefano writes

> Arguments ad personam are always more compelling than arguments ad rem. 

Ah. So thanks for removing a misunderstanding I had. 
I was inferring that "ad personam" and "ad hominem"
were the same thing.   :-)           [1]

> > are you implying that your [so-called] adversary
> > [in a discussion] will be lying when he denies you
> > a "common ground" that in his heart he does readily accept? 
> No. I mean that he may be reluctant to refuse a common ground
> that *is* common to most of our public (say, the jurors, the TV
> spectators to a political debate, the other guests at a sitting dinner),
> thus offering you  leverage,

I'm not so sure about that. I imagine, per your examples, that I'm
in a conversation at a dinner party conversation. I may very well
choose to defend unpopular and sometimes even incomprehensible
positions that may give my (so-called) adversary an advantage in
making my positions seem untenable. But so long as I am free to
reply and free to respond, I don't really care.

> or that if he does deny it he corners himself in a position that may
> be less popular or acceptable ("science is per se sinful") than his
> original stance may have been ("stem cell research should be regulated"). 

I confess, say, to wishing to persuade the others at the dinner party
that, say, the Earth is very underpopulated, or that people should
choose being frozen over certain death. It has no bearing on me
how unacceptable the other guests may find this, unless the situation
is so extreme (e.g. I've been invited to a religious service) that it
would be impolite to pursue what I think is the truth.

> > I could never stand the very idea of "debate" in high school,
> > it seemed somehow very dishonest and wicked to argue a
> > point that you did not believe.
> Funnily enough, I have heard of such debating matches, Athenian
> sophist-style, in US high schools, but the very concept is totally
> unknown of in Europe, including in the training of practising lawyers!
> But perhaps it is just that all that has become second nature for us,
> so we need not being educated in it... :-)

<grin>  Well, even if that is true, the less justification for "debate teams"
in American high school I see the more I think about it.


[1]  If for some bizarre reason Stefano turns out not to be
      correct on this point, I am *not* being sarcastic.

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