The terrible Molyneux gets another drubbing


We have a review of Molyneux’s ridiculous book, The Argument, right here on Pharyngula, by Joshua Stein. If you enjoyed that, you may also like this other review of Molyneux by Alexander Douglas. It’s pseudo-philosophy for the alt-right.

But didn’t I say this was a book designed to flatter the egos of its readers? Well, it is. But this requires the readers, who are taken as complete troglodytes, to be shown in turn to be vastly intellectually superior to somebody else, namely those silly, emo, irrational liberals who don’t understand The Argument.

Thus Molyneux is led to make daring leaps from his slap-headed logical platitudes to ridiculous critiques of liberal views. Since, again, he’s writing entirely for an audience of white men who think they’re geniuses obscured behind the cataracted judgment of the world, he doesn’t have to work hard here. Having taken several excruciating pages to explain precisely how if Fa is true for all a then there is not an a for which ~Fa, he then infers that campus rape culture is a liberal myth. The Einsteins of the alt-right will of course see the link by intuition, but as a courtesy Molyneux includes an argument for those of us less blessed:

If I have some sexual fetish role-play fantasy about being raped, and I then ask my partner to simulate such an attack, I cannot reasonably charge my partner with rape.

Of course not. Consent couldn’t possibly ever be withdrawn. That would go against logic. Here is the proof: A if and only if A. How the hell is that relevant, you ask? Well, now you’re getting emotional. And emotional reactions (from women) are by definition coercive and go against the peaceful free-speech standards of The Argument:

A woman who pouts and withdraws emotionally if you don’t do what she wants is not using The Argument, because she punishes you for noncompliance, rather than making a reasonable case for her preferences.

One of the fundamental ideas of science is that you don’t work to prove a hypothesis — you test it to see if you can break it. It’s one of the reasons that creationism is objectionable, it’s because they don’t do science. They start with their conclusion and then finagle the evidence to make it fit.

Molyneux is a fine example of how not to do philosophy. He also has a set of priors, and what he’s doing is finagling logic to support them.

I’m kind of feeling that that is even more offensive than making up evidence.

Comments

  1. rietpluim says

    So consent can be given at any time, but it cannot be withdrawn, because that would be irrational?

    What do they think consent is, the conclusion of a syllogism?

  2. phlo says

    Since when does anyone need to make a “reasonable case” for their preferences? A person’s preferences are what they are, and if you don’t like it, you are free to fuck off.

  3. Mark Dowd says

    Preferences can’t have a reasonable case made for them. They are inherently subjective and arbitrary. I do not need a “logical argument” for why I like peanut butter cookies more than chocolate chip, that’s just the way it is.

    Preferences only need to be declared, not argued.

  4. Siobhan says

    @2 phlo

    Since when does anyone need to make a “reasonable case” for their preferences?

    When they constitute harm for another, obviously, or are expressed using stigmatizing language (e.g. you’re a man and another man asks you out on a date, saying “no” is valid, calling him slurs while doing so is certainly fertile ground for questioning).

    Preferences aren’t quite immune to criticism.

  5. phlo says

    @4 Siobhan

    When they constitute harm for another, obviously, or are expressed using stigmatizing language (e.g. you’re a man and another man asks you out on a date, saying “no” is valid, calling him slurs while doing so is certainly fertile ground for questioning).

    Preferences aren’t quite immune to criticism.

    Having preferences is one thing – expressing them is quite another! The latter is certainly not immune to criticism. However, as I understand the context here, it’s about saying “I don’t want you to do X to me, I’m not into that”. No one needs to make a “reasonable case” for that type of statement or justify where they set their boundaries.

  6. Chaos Engineer says

    If I have some sexual fetish role-play fantasy about being raped, and I then ask my partner to simulate such an attack, I cannot reasonably charge my partner with rape.

    Gah! This is why we need comprehensive sex education in middle school. In the absence of that, kids like Molyneux get all their information on the streets. In this case, he’s learned that this fetish exists and it’s something he seems to be interested in, but he’s never been exposed to the concept of a “safeword”! I hope his future partner can help him fill in the gaps in his knowledge; otherwise he’s going to wind up either traumatized or dead.

    It’s so sad to see young people trying to re-invent the wheel, just because nobody’s ever bothered to educate them about the current state-of-the-art.

  7. gijoel says

    @6 I doubt any kind of exposure to sex education would have helped Molyeneux. He’s started from the premise that women are bad and men are good. He and his ilk don’t care about anyone’s needs or wants but their own.

  8. doubtthat says

    I will not read this book, but I am enjoying the folks dunking on his stupid face.

    This review really cracked me up:

    https://medium.com/@cianchartier/a-review-of-stefan-molyneuxs-the-art-of-the-argument-2c1c83fa7802

    Goes into detail about how bafflingly idiotic his explanation of basic logical concepts is. He just jumbled the concepts of validity and soundness – day 1 of every intro to logic course ever created.

    It’s the total vapidity + sanctimony that gives glibertarians, and especially Molyneux, their extra special shittiness.

  9. unclefrogy says

    One of the fundamental ideas of science is that you don’t work to prove a hypothesis — you test it to see if you can break it. It’s one of the reasons that creationism is objectionable, it’s because they don’t do science. They start with their conclusion and then finagle the evidence to make it fit.

    Molyneux is a fine example of how not to do philosophy. He also has a set of priors, and what he’s doing is finagling logic to support them.

    what you describe there and what I also see is as anyone else can see is something that is more akin to how legal arguments as displayed in court work.
    Logic and argument are used to support each sides perception of selective evidence, a combat by words to win the case not a search for truth though it sometimes does lead to truth. As you said not how science works and for sure Not with religion or these types of proponents of bias.
    uncle frogy

  10. Chakat Firepaw says

    @Mark Dowd #3

    Preferences can’t have a reasonable case made for them. They are inherently subjective and arbitrary. I do not need a “logical argument” for why I like peanut butter cookies more than chocolate chip, that’s just the way it is.

    I wouldn’t say “can’t”, I can make a very reasonable case for preferring chocolate chip cookies to peanut butter ones: I find breathing to be a non-optional activity.

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