Tough questions, adult thinking

Engram poses a question to examine maturity of thinking – Can Reasonable People Disagree with You about what Constitutes Torture?. The thesis is about defining tough questions.

On the tough questions, reasonable people can disagree. That’s precisely what makes them tough questions

It is a matter of defining that area where people can disagree. If you move towards binary logic and leave a very very small sphere of unimportant issues for honorable disagreement, then it is likely you are avoiding the tough questions. Engram uses both the torture and abortion issues for examples.

On both questions, my mind is sufficiently flexible to appreciate that reasonable people can disagree with me, and I never feel any desire to see my political opponents prosecuted for the crime of not seeing things my way. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t experience prosecutorial fury even if a president’s well-meaning stance against “torture” resulted directly in another tragedy like the one we experienced on 9/11.

If you believe that (a) waterboarding is torture (a defensible position that nevertheless seems quite wrong to me), (b) that reasonable people cannot disagree about this (i.e., that the correctness of your position is so transparently obvious that the details need not even be debated), and (c) that those responsible for the harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA against 3 high-level al Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 should be prosecuted, then I submit that your position is as intellectually primitive and as mentally inflexible as those who want to prosecute doctors for performing abortions. That’s not where you want to be, but that’s where you are.

It is a harsh label but it is an observation of contrasts about methods of argument. When you avoid tough questions by casting judgment on those who disagree, you are no longer in the realm of civility and intellectual integrity.

Comments are closed.