Thursday, March 31, 2005

Arguments and Objectivity

In the case of disagreement, a concerned and responsible participant would adhere to the cooperative spirit in investigating alternatives congenial to the pursuit of a common enterprise, rather than hold on tenaciously to his own view. For his view may be the product of obscuration of mind (9), rather than an impartial exercise of reason.

A. S. Cua, Ethical Argumentation: A Study in Hsün Tzu's Moral Epistemology (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985).

Is that so difficult? For example, why are men looked at so strangely when they argue a feminist position? If there is something unenthical or unfair occuring, do you have to be the victim to cry foul? Is it so surprising that an uninvolved party would cry foul? Or even the person who is realizing the unfair benefit?

Yet people are so used to the notion that only victims complain about their suffering, that people who stand out against the unjust are ridiculed, scoffed, and, eventually, challenged to explain what personal gain they must stand to get for sticking their neck out.

I have no particular incident in mind. But to a less serious extent this happens during game nights. When an argument over the rules happens, what side are you on? Do you naturally choose the side that stands to gain you something? Do people believe that you are arguing objectively if you are involved in the outcome? ARE you arguing objectively?

The unfortunate thing is that most people won't believe you , even if you are being objective. But the principles that apply during game night are no less than the principles you hold throughout your life. What kind of person are you? What do you stand for?

There are, of course, situations where, within the game itself, you must argue out of a kind of deception - Diplomacy is the obvious example. But the key here is that this is within the game itself, not about the rules of the game. (In any case, this is one reason why I don't normally play Diplomacy. Too hard not to let the game world creep into the real world.)

The game board is an opportunity, like any other, to strive to be the best you can be ... as a human being. Intelligence, creativity, guile ... these all make for good game moves and help you achieve the goals of the game. But good manners, civility, consideration ... if you have these, then even if you don't achieve the goals of the game, you win.


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