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This will be pretty short, and very few of the words will be my own. I recently had the misfortune of getting in a petty argument over the merits of a good friend's musical preference over at my blog and am afraid it may have caused some significant damage to our relationship (short term I hope). I miss his contributions and hope he returns soon. While reflecting on this, I ran into a great thread at one of my favorite blogs, Rationally Speaking, in which the host reflected on a nasty pie fight he'd inadvertantly started on the subject of abortion. A commenter posted Sydney Hook's The Ethics of Controversy and it struck me as something this community might find of value. Posted in its entirety over the orange scrunchy.

   The Ground Rules of Controversy in a Democracy:

    1. Nothing and no one is immune from criticism.

    2. Everyone involved in a controversy has an intellectual responsibility to inform himself (sic.) of the available facts.

    3. Criticism should be directed first to policies, and against persons only when they are responsible for policies, and against their motives or purposes only when there is some independent evidence of their character.

    4. Because certain words are legally permissible, they are not therefore morally permissible.

    5. BEFORE impugning an opponent’s motives, even when they legitimately be impugned, answer his arguments.

    6. Do not treat an opponent of a policy as if he were therefore a personal enemy or an enemy of the country or a concealed enemy of democracy.

    7. Since a good cause may be defended by bad arguments, after answering the bad arguments for another’s position present positive evidence for your own.

    8. Do not hesitate to admit lack of knowledge or to suspend judgement if evidence is not decisive either way.

    9. Only in pure logic and mathematics, not in human affairs, can one demonstrate that something is strictly impossible. Because something is logically possible, it is not therefore probable. “It is not impossible” is a preface to an irrelevant statement about human affairs. The question is always one of the balance of probabilities. And the evidence for probabilities must include more than abstract possibilities.

    10. The cardinal sin, when we are looking for truth of fact or wisdom of policy, is refusal to discuss, or action which blocks discussion.

    Sidney Hook “The Ethics of Controversy” (1954)

Hope it helps.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

    by Max Wyvern on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:11:16 PM PDT

  •  If it's musical, I hope it was the (0+ / 0-)

    Brahms-Wagner controversy. Otherwise, I can't help you.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:24:28 PM PDT

  •  Good principles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was not familiar with this list. And me a philosopher.


    Babylon system is the vampire... ~Bob Marley

    by sfinx on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:32:44 PM PDT

  •  What's higher than meta? (0+ / 0-)

    I think this falls into the category of meta about meta.

    I like this list a lot. The fact it's dated 1954 makes me wonder if it was spurred by the anti-Communist fervor of that time.

    I think it would be hard to get people to agree to the list. For example, if I'm in a heated discussion about abortion or minimum wage (for example), I don't think it would work to say, "Before we go any further, let's agree to this list." In a formal debate (with agreed-upon rules), this list would be great.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:12:47 PM PDT

  •  what was it about? (0+ / 0-)

    for your enlightenment (if necessary):

    Beatles >> Stones or Dylan
    Stones >> Dead
    Cyndi Lauper >> Madonna
    Ramones >> Talking Heads
    Florence's 1st album >> Florence's 2nd album

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:22:18 PM PDT

    •  Can I just give you a donut? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Just kidding ;)

      Though I have to say you're just a tad off.

      My ratings follow:

      Beatles >> Stones
      Dylan > Beatles
      Dead >> Dylan
      Cindi Lauper ~= Madonna
      Talking Heads >>> Ramones
      Florence who?

      The argument was actually about disco and opera. You can probably guess my preference. I do think, though, that I was an ass in the way I expressed it.

      ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

      by Max Wyvern on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:38:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ! :-) (0+ / 0-)

        I would take the absolute best disco (Donna Summer - I Feel Love, in my opinion) over the absolute worst opera.

        And now for my little joke...

        Since there was only one good disco song ever that leaves a lot of opera as superior to any other disco that could be considered.

        However, seriously, I find that some disco, as well as modern electronica, is as complicated as Vivaldi.

        Dear NSA: I am only joking.

        by Shahryar on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:45:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its easy to forget (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that music, like art in general, is an entirely subjective experience. I'm glad that we can't all agree on what moves us. It makes the human experience so much more rich.

          ...hatred being a form of bondage to its object - Alan Watts

          by Max Wyvern on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:42:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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