Axiom For The Win!

It seems to me that there are a few topics that lend themselves to axiomatic victories.  People who argue these aren’t really interested in demonstrating that they are true, they simply insist that they are and move on from there.  They start with the conclusion that everything they believe is right and look for evidence, if they bother at all, that supports that foregone conclusion.  By and large, these conclusions are entirely emotional.

So let’s take a look at a couple of these arguments.  This is by no means a complete list, many emotionally-based positions take for granted their own correctness, whether they can actually demonstrate it or not.

Religion:  The granddaddy of them all, religion asserts the existence of an unseen and undetectable god as the basis for everything they believe.  How do they know?  They just do.  They can provide no evidence, they can concoct no rational argument, they just believe without the slightest shred of proof and expect everyone else to do the same.

Presuppositionalism:  It deserves it’s own separate category.  Not only does it suffer from all the weaknesses of religion, but it makes a huge unwarranted assumption on it’s own.  It teaches that everyone knows God is real and that without a belief that God is real, no position can be argued for.  Perhaps more than any other, this is a shining example of the stupidity of the axiomatic win.

Libertarianism:  The central core of libertarian thought is the “natural right”.  They’re absolutely certain that they exist, they just can’t reason their way to them.  They cannot produce evidence for them.  They’re just damn sure they’re real though.  I did have one person, and this is where the title of this article comes from, declare that “natural rights” are a libertarian axiom, therefore he didn’t have to actually demonstrate them, they were simply defined to be true.

Antinatalism:  This is the newcomer to the list but it’s just as nutty as the rest.  It starts with the unjustified claim that all suffering is bad.  Well, not all suffering, just human suffering.  Why just human suffering?  I don’t think they really know, it all comes off like a bunch of emotionally-stunted, hippie-spewing nonsense.  If they were honest, they’d say all suffering was wrong and preach planet-wide Armageddon, but they don’t.

By definition, an axiom is a statement which is universally accepted as true and thus, not under debate.  It can only be an axiom so long as everyone involved accepts it.  If anyone disagrees, then it ceases to be an axiom and it must be defended like any other claim.  These views are not acceptable to the emotionally axiomatic above. These people all approach their beliefs not only wearing their emotions on their sleeve but covered head-to-toe in them.  There is no rational thought in any of these positions, they’ve entirely given up the intellectual high ground for arguments that are little better than “I’m right, so there!”

Anyone who resorts to axioms as a means to an automatic, immediate victory has lost before they begin.  That’s not how the real world works and certainly not how science works.  Could you imagine a scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal starting off stating as an axiom that they were right and anyone who disagreed was a Nazi? That’s absurd, yet essentially the same thing that happens with these axiom-rich beliefs.  Certainly these are not all of the ridiculous positions that use this tactic, they exist simply to highlight the absurdity of it all.  You can’t start with an unproven and highly controversial statement and then base your entire argument and belief system off of that statement.  It just doesn’t work that way.

But then again, if these groups were rational, they’d already know that, wouldn’t they?

23 thoughts on “Axiom For The Win!

    1. Thanks. I think we're seeing a prime example of this kind of "axiom for the win" going on right now on the blog. It's a matter of picking your conclusions, then only looking at "evidence" that supports that conclusion, even if the evidence isn't real and the conclusion is absurd.

      1. Absolutely.

        Anyone can skew any evidence.
        Anyone can pick their own conclusions.

        Few, if any, rarely keep an open mind.

        I enjoy your blog. You put a lot of work into it. It is well researched, and well reasoned.

        Thank you for your hard work.

        1. Would I be that resident troll to whom you refer? If so, you obviously are not very good at picking bets are you. You lost this one. When can I expect you to honor your bet and pay me the one hundred bucks.

          If I am not the troll to whom you are referring then disregard this reply. If I am then read it carefully and thoroughly and think about it before you offer a knee-jerk, poorly-thoughtout defense of yourself. I truly am looking forward to your response. I am hoping for a well-articulated and reflective response. But If something else is offered, well I do enjoy shooting sitting ducks.

          I shall assume that I am the resident troll of whom you are writing. Now let's tackle your assertion that I am a resident troll. Resident? I suppose you can use that term since I do post replies here frequently. Troll? Well define troll. We need to do this because if I don't know your definition for the word we cannot have a meaningful discussion. (Something apparently not obvious to a few persons at this blog.)

          "In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet))

          As I understand it this is the meaning of the term when used by most, if not all, persons on the internet. It is the definition that I use. Well I suppose I am a troll if my comments upset you or sow discord. But this seems to me a pretty lame and trivial meaning of the word. Not to mention, I don't know how one can disagree with another and not by definition sow some discord. And if my comments upset you then it seems it is because you disagree with them. If so then this says, I think, a great deal more about you than it does about me. After all just saying things with which you don't agree appears to upset you, regardless of the merits of the actual comments. And if this is a significant part of your definition of the term, then it would appear that you simply prefer that this blog just be an echo-chamber. And if it is true that you would rather not actually have a discussion or argument, then again this says more about you as a thinker than it does about me

          I have posted no inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic replies anytime I have been to this site. My comments are about claims and assertions made in the original post or direct replies to responders such as yourself. If you think that I have posted inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic replies then I challenge you to post here a set of excerpts from my replies that reveal a pattern of doing so.

          Has my intent been to provoke an emotional response? Well, I don't think so. In fact, I have on a number of occasions pointed out that the original post in some instances was itself rife with emotionalism, despite the claims of Cephus that he has great disdain for the use of emotionalism in arguments. My intent has been to point out the weaknesses, errors, flaws, and missing evidence in the postings at this blog. My intent has been to offer a rebuttal to the claims and assertions made at this site. What is often claimed to be an argument here is nothing more than a series of assertions without any supporting evidence. Now if this provokes an emotional response from any of you, this was not my intent. And if anything any of you have said was emotionally-based, then this says more about you than it does about my intent. (Not to mention, it makes a lie out of the implied claim at this blog that the so-called arguments here are based on reason and logic and not emotionalism.)

          My replies have not been an attempt to disrupt normal on-topic discussions. My posted replies have always been on topic. The intent has not been to derail the conversation from the topic of the original post, but to point out where the original post is wrong, or lacking in evidence, or fails to actually constitute an argument.

          If you think me a troll by the definition above then I challenge you to provide the evidence. Make a case. Simply asserting that I am a troll is not an argument. Furthermore, simply making an assertion does make the assertion true. And if you think it does then you are woefully ignorant of what constitutes an argument.

          Lastly, if you think a troll is just a person who habitually disagrees with you, then you are using a meaning for the word that is not in widespread use. Additionally, if all that is necessary to be a troll is to disagree with another person's perspective or opinion then (1) you and Cephus are trolls every time you disagree with another person, including the religious believers whom you and Cephus so frequently (and justifiably) criticize, and every time you disagree with me, and (2) I shall wear the troll title as a badge of distinction since disagreeing with the opinions and assertions made on this blog is the right thing to do given that they are worthy of criticism and rebuttal for very good reason: they are frequently poorly reasoned and seldom justified by or supported with evidence.

          1. I bet he was not talking about you. You make good comments sometimes they are too long and drawn out though

          2. And just what is it that you think you bring to the discussion table? Whatever it is it certainly is nothing with any greater substance or merit than opinions.

          3. Thank you for your input. Thank you for the comment about the quality of the comments I make. As for them being too long and drawn out, perhaps they are, though I think for good reason. When presenting an argument I firmly believe one should strive to leave as little room as possible for ambiguity, misinterpretation or misunderstanding on the part of the reader. I think it worth sacrificing brevity if it achieves this objective. As I have said numerous times, too often the original posts at this cite are a series of assertions offered up as statements of fact and/or truth without a proffer of evidence to substantiate them. One can and should say that Cephus and some of those who reply here offer postings that meet the brevity criterion. But all too often they are sacrificing understanding and clarity and a fully-formed argument for the sake of brevity. I submit that this is far less forgivable than my sacrifice of brevity for the sake of greater clarity, greater understanding, and a fully-formed argument.

            You may judge for yourself the truth and accuracy of this claim.

          4. I find you as a very smart person with well though out comments. Like I said though sometimes the lenghts of them will cause people not to read them entirely. People tend to skip over lenghty comments. I for the most part read your whole comments

          5. What religious views are you speaking of? I have expressed none of which I am aware.

            But let's clear up any misunderstanding you may have about my views. I am an atheist. And if you came to any other conclusion from anything I have said on this blog you have not been reading comments very carefully. I am in complete agreement with Cephus and the others here when they have accused you – justifiably so – of failing to provide evidence for you claims. I no more believe in the existence of your god, or any other god for that matter, than I do in the existence of unicorns, dragons, mermaids, the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. I reject all for the same reason: There is not a shred of empirical evidence to support any of these claims.

            As for you bringing logic to the table, you are engaging in self-deception. The Physics Nobel Laureate Richard Fenyman once said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." You are a perfect example of what he meant by this statement. What you have offered is pseudo-logic: nonsense masquerading as logic. You have failed to provide sufficiently compelling evidence for any of your claims, starting with the really big one: God exists. Any claim you make that follows from or relies upon this claim being true is not true until this claim is established to be true. And since this is a very extraordinary claim then you had better offer some very extraordinary evidence. You haven't met this burden yet. And I very seriously doubt you will, since many minds far greater than yours have tried for the past two-thousand years and have failed.

          6. You are far to shy, why not say what you're really thinking?

            I've provided links. I've given short simple answers for my positions.
            If you think those are wrong explain why.

          7. Be careful what you say to this one. He has filed law suits against many of us in weak attempt to silence us

          8. I don't doubt that what you say about some people not reading the full comment is likely true. But this is not a failing in me. It is a failing in the reader. A person who does not read the entire argument before responding is exhibiting poor argumentation skills and technique. I refuse to commit this error for the sake of brevity.

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