Law: Logical?

March 7, 2008

When I signed in tonight I swear I intended to blog about the last of my OCI interviews.  I was going to talk about how I’m still unemployed and running out of chances and I was going to review tonight’s receptions. 

Instead, I’m going to do a little rant about something that has been bothering me.  I think a lot of views that people take are stupid.  I realize that a lot of views that people generally assume I have (often ones that I don’t actually have) are stupid.  I’m sure people think some views I actually have are stupid. 

Here is what I am offering tonight- a compromise.  Specifically, a compromise that I think Kurzman and I both agree with and have both agreed with for a long time.  The compromise is this – “Take whatever view you want on most things.  I may or may not agree.  If I don’t, we may get in a debate about it, but I will respect your view, subject to the following condition – it has to be logically consistent and the reasons you base the opinion on cannot only sometimes be propositions you believe in.”  What I mean by this is, if you want to take a position, I can almost certainly respect it if the reasons you articulate are reasons that you believe are true in general (if they are general reasons).  If you only believe them sometimes, then I think you are 1. admitting to yourself that your reasons are stupid and 2. largely saying “my view is discredited, but damnit its what I think” which is fine, our country has lots of people with this approach, but if you say that 1. you don’t get to say anything negative about my view (because after all, yours is nothing more than “I wanna” and my in at least to some degree based on an underlying value or reason).  2. I get to hold your view as less credible than if you supported it.

Why do I bring this up?  While drunk I had three conversations today where this came up.

 Conversation 1:
I was talking about how I was bored and was going to watch something online.  The person next to me, a wanna-be-artist then proceeded to tell me how wrong it is to do this.  Now, I have heard this argument before, and I don’t generally disagree.  I said “ya, you’re right, it isn’t the best, but blah blah blah. ” He was pissed off that I would even think to do such a thing but had confronted people enough that I think my willingness to say that his stance was almost certainly correct in an objective sense saved me the lecture.  No less than three minutes later he made reference to “how the full version of photoshop is fantastic.”  My ears perked.  I was somewhat drunk and also annoyed at his lack of social tact, so I decided to be equally rude and call him out.  “How much was the full version of the this Adobe stuff you are ranting about,” I asked.  He answered that he had no idea and that he doesn’t pay for software.  At this point I felt compelled to say the following: “So temporary use of a movie, which I will not keep for more than two hours is morally terrible, but you pirating software is ok, can you explain the difference?”  Bear in mind, I had already admitted I think both are wrong, so I wasn’t getting into a “well you’re bad too” only a case of “you’re pretty much a hypocrit.”  He responded about how Adobe asks for it by making their software overpriced, blah blah blah.  Typical artist argument.  When I said that I found that argument interesting since music producers had been found to have engaged in price fixing but Adobe never had, he then went with “how can you compare a huge corporation to a struggling artist.”  One, Twentieth Century Fox isn’t exactly a starving arist, but two, he finally came out and said it, what his argument really is is that he things artists deserve special treatment compared to corporations because people don’t value what artists do as much as corporations.  Fine, thats his view, but say that, don’t tell me some garbage about how “stealing is per se wrong” but then “stealing from some people is ok.”  Articulate your point for what it is and let it be judged.  If you think that artists deserve special treatment, say so.  Then defend to my why I have a moral obligation to treat an artist who’s art isn’t valued by the market any differently than I have to treat the guy who is disappointed that the market doesn’t value paper airplane folding (for the record, I have a friend that folds the best paper airplanes). 

Situation 2:

An ten minutes later, a friend of the guy from situation one said (almost certainly while chatting about how I “just don’t get it,” a favorite comment of people who’s arguments are based on nothing more than a belief that something is right just cause its right): “He doesn’t understand that art isn’t just a good, its a way of life.”  Here I chose not to say anything, but again, this argument is really saying:  “Art is a way of life that should be treated as a calling above at least some other callings.”  Perhaps he’s right.  Perhaps there is something about art that makes it a superior calling to other things.  If you believe this, assert why and see if its convincing.  These two seemed to think it was self evident.  There are lots of things that can be a “way of life.”  Not working can be a way of life.  Is that a calling?  What makes art a way of life that gives it special protection that “software production” as a way of life doesn’t have?   

Situation 3:

Two kids I know that are VERY Jewish talking about how “they just don’t understand how somebody could believe (some specific stance of a faith I didn’t catch).  Now, I’m not touching this one other than to say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  I will afford faith a special place in order to say “faith by definition means you believe it because you believe it,” but there is NO justifiable reason that you can POSSIBLY offer to contend that every part of your faith is more logical as the least logical part of another person’s faith.  Seriously jewish guys that are talking smack.  Is whatever they said really so “illogical?”  Really?  I mean, when you put whatever he said next to “turning on a light at certain times of the week is a sin,” or “cheeseburgers are a sin,” is whatever he said really “illogical?” 



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