A thing I’ve noticed. There’s a lot of talking past each other here (in this hotly contested discussion, I mean, not on this blog). There’s a lot of mixing up of slogans and political commitments with attempts to disambiguate words and problematize concepts. The two don’t go well together. I have political commitments, but I also like to try to disambiguate words and problematize concepts.
So, if only “abbeycadabra” had thought to make their question to me a matter of political commitments, I could have answered it, probably the way they were looking for. But they didn’t. And because they didn’t, they pretty thoroughly fucked up my life for the past couple of weeks.
I squandered much too much time today answering endless repetitive pointless questions from two men on Facebook who were making the same mistake.
They were (it became more and more clear) talking about commitments, but they talked about them in the language of ontology and epistemology. If they had just talked about them in the language of rights or morality or politics, I could have answered in a sentence and all that time would have been saved.
I’ve long defended the claim that skeptics don’t have to banish all commitments as the enemy of skepticism. People with no moral commitments are…not pleasant people, as you may have noticed. But one does have to know the difference.
Slogans have their uses, but the uses are pretty limited. Usually when I’m trying to think about something, slogans are not going to be relevant. (Cf Josh’s post on “intent is not magic” yesterday.) Spending hours trying to force me to utter a particular slogan is just silly. It doesn’t tell you anything. Ask me instead if I share your commitment; unless you’re an asshole with asshole commitments, the answer will be yes.