Preconditions of argument

Most people can't be swayed through reason on most issues, but many can on some issues, so efficient heuristics to filter out irrationality are invaluable. One red flag is rejecting the below propositions. I summarily refuse to argue with anyone who rejects one of these.

Know when to give up on people

Some things are better than others.

You would think people who claim there is no such thing as objective quality in a given domain would not give any other response to an argument that one thing is better than another, but I've seen each of the above plenty of times. This suggests (if we didn't already know) that the claim is usually insincere; people fall back on it when they don't have any arguments but still want to "win".

A hypothetical doesn't have to be realistic, only coherent, to require an analysis consistent with your analysis of other situations.

This pops up often when I argue with communists: to show them the validity of property, I have to remove complicating factors in the real world to prevent endless red herrings. But many of them complain that my simplified scenarios are "unrealistic" and refuse to consider them.

An analogy is not a fucking equivalency.

When I gave comparisons to show how a given argument for the age of consent was inconsistent, I was not saying that *feeding a child unhealthy food is *equally bad* as fucking a child*. I was pointing out that the specific reason given for why fucking a child is a rights violation would also mean that feeding a child unhealthy food is a rights violation.

Age of consent is a correlated trait fallacy

The most famous proponent of an idea, especially if they died hundreds of years ago, does not have the exclusive right to decide what a word means.

For example, Murray Rothbard's claim that ancaps are not anarchists does not means ancaps are not anarchists.

What Samuel Edward Konkin thought has no direct impact on what we should consider the word "agorism" to mean.

Practicality doesn't affect justifiability.

This is an appeal to consequences.


Earnest people can make this mistake, but people who, having it to pointed out to them, insist that the principle is correct cannot be reasoned with.

There is a difference between an initial offense and a retaliation.

Myopias on violence

You don't have to think retaliation is justified to distinguish it from initial offense.

There is a difference between a group defined by a non-choice and a group defined by a choice.

There is a difference between a group of which most members are X and a group *defined* by X.

Police are a group *defined* by their choice to serve an unjust regime.


White people are not a group *defined* by racism, so now matter how many white people are racist, generalizations about white people are not justified in the same way as ones about police.

Rhetoric matters.

Often when I criticize my fellow libertarians and anarchists for rhetoric that harms the reputation of our movement, they respond with something to the effect of "FREE SPEECH means you shouldn't use your speech to criticize my speech".

And yes, this applies to jokes too. Just because it's a joke doesn't mean it's not a bad thing to say.

Withdrawing from an argument doesn't mean you lost.

A favorite of those in bad faith is to squeeze in a closing assertion that you withdrew from the conversation because you couldn't counter their argument. There's nothing you can do to stop this because these arguments are literally endless until you withdraw or a circumstance forces the conversation to end. The only counterplay is to cut such bad faith arguers out of our lives and communities.

Unfortunately, being unable to counter an argument *is* a very common reason for not responding to it, and there's no non-circular way to distinguish this from not responding because the opponent is in bad faith.


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