Logical rudeness

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A term originating in the philosopher Peter Suber's essay Logical Rudeness. What Suber calls logical rudeness is a response to criticism which insulates the responder from having to address the criticism directly. Suber comes up with a taxonomy of logical rudeness:

The primary type is probably the application of a theory of justified dismissal, such as a theory of error or insanity, to critics and dissenters. Another major type is the interpretation of criticism as behavior to be explained rather than answered. This is closely connected to the type that refuses to see a meta-level in the critic's criticism, and will not allow critics to escape the object-language of the theory... All the types have in common an evasion of a responsibility to answer criticism on the merits, when that evasion is authorized by the theory criticized. All types are triggered only by expounded criticism, and only insulate the proponent from conversion or capitulation, not the theory from refutation.

Suber goes on to say that rudeness does not imply falsehood, and in fact, to insulate yourself from criticism on the grounds that your opponent is rude is itself rude. He goes on to examine the competing norms of debate: we might wish to allow people freedom to hold to theories, including those which are rude, but we also wish debates to move forwards.

Blog posts

  • Logical rudeness, in which Eliezer Yudkowsky broadens to the term to encompass other ways of breaking the flow of discussion, not just those which involve theories of justified dismissal.

See also