Essays About

The Falsity of Reasonable Arguments

The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines. -Proverbs 18:17

In politics, everyone has a reasonable point. And because everyone is right, everyone is wrong-headed.

We assert the need for spending cuts while condemning cuts to programs that affect us. Our convictions rest on sound arguments applied inconsistently. We do not so much only care about our favorite programs as only know about our favorite programs. Thus we apply a specific logic in defense of them—the good they do—while applying a general logic against unknown programs—the overall need to trim deficits.

In abortion debates, opposing sides do not so much disagree on an answer as compellingly answer different questions. Pro-life advocates depict a battle between a woman and a fetus, in which no human has a right to decide if another should live. Pro-choice advocates depict a battle between a woman and the government, in which no senator has a right over a woman's reproduction.

The rich protest the estate tax unfair because it taxes the same wealth twice. The poor protest it unfair that they have no estate to tax.

Nothing hinders a fair hearing for truth like cogent arguments. No sooner are we convinced of the merit of our logic than we close our minds to the merit of other logics. In college, I wondered how great thinkers, reading the same map of world facts, could reach such contradictory conclusions.

Skeptics are right to doubt the dogmas of the convinced, but for the wrong reason. Truth eludes us not because there are no certainties in life, but because there are too many.