Reductio Ad Absurdum (a Twitter exchange)

Iโ€™ve just had this Twitter conversation with @Adam4004 about Reductio Ad Absurdum:

Michael: Children have a human right to a neutral studying environment, even in denominational schools http://bit.ly/1pynTek

Evert Bopp: Thatโ€™s not a human right. What’s next, a “human right” to clean socks?

Michael: There is no human right to clean socks, but there is a human right to clean water.

Adam: Where is that human right derived? Not saying it’s not something that’s a good thing but where is the right derived?

Michael: http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/human_right_to_water.shtml

Adam: So the UN are where human rights are derived?

Michael: Philosophically, they are notional concepts. Legally, they are derived from international treaties and national laws.

Adam: So in reality human rights derive from no real absolute. They are just current en vogue concepts

Michael: No absolute, that’s right. “Just current en vogue concepts” is wrong.

Adam: Why is it wrong?

Michael: It implies random fashion tastes, like punk taking over from disco, not a consistent refinement of personal rights and duties.

Adam: A relative refinement currently (@ this time in history) the view of some higher cognitive animals. Nothing more ultimately

Michael: I agree, nothing more ultimately. But still very helpful here and now in minimising suffering.

Adam: But the idea suffering is wrong is merely a response to chemical stimuli that causes a negatively interpreted reaction in some

Michael: That’s true, but you would also have some extra thoughts about it if I punched you very hard in the face ๐Ÿ™‚

Adam: True. But they wouldn’t be anything more than reaction of an animal to stimuli ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael: So why do you belittle it, given your philosophy that it is all that we have got? Surely it is everything to us?

Adam: It’s not my philosophy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael: So (a) what is your philosophy and (b) why are you arguing something you don’t believe?

Adam: Reductio ad absurdum ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael: Is that your answer to both questions?

Adam: Oh no. Sorry. I’m a theist. A Christian to be exact. ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael: Okay, fair enough. So how does your reductio ad absurdum show that anything false or absurd follows from my argument?

Adam: You are consistent. Just pointing out that if ur right water is a human right only ultimately in the manner I noted. ๐Ÿ™‚

Michael: But for your reductio ad absurdum to work, it would have to show my consistency to be false or absurd. It hasn’t.

Adam: Not at all. Reductio merely means I take a position to its logical conclusion (which some would find absurd). You are consistent

Michael: Thatโ€™s not what RAA means. It means taking it to a conclusion that shows that it is false or contradictory or absurd.

Michael: You seem to be inventing a new test of reductio ad consistency ๐Ÿ™‚

Adam: I noted that to some it’s absurd. Not to you.

Michael: Again, that’s not what RAA means. it means showing objectively and logically that there are untenable conclusions.

Adam: In reality more debating for fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Gotta run now:)

Michael: Okay, let me know if you would like me to test your Christianity using Reductio Ad Absurdum ๐Ÿ™‚

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1 Comment

  1. Really enjoyed that.

    It’s typical of my experiences when discussing things such as science or critical thinking with theists. They think they know what scientific, logical or philosophical terms mean – then they use those terms in discussion in the belief that it lends credibility and weight to their arguments/opinions. When you correct them, they either run off or attempt to change the subject. I actually found myself talking to a creationist recently in Dublin, and actually tried several times to correct their complete misunderstanding of the 2nd Law of thermodynamics (they thought – or read on a website – that this was somehow proof against evolution!)

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