[FoRK] I am rubber and you are glue

Tom Higgins tomhiggins at gmail.com
Thu Feb 5 11:33:40 PST 2009

Reading this I laughed at what is now a seemingly fading part of Fork.
I know I risk jinxing the roll, but it has been refreshing to read
fork without much flare and glare of late. I know I know, cycles.


"An argument from authority is an indirect argument; it tells you
there are probably direct arguments that convinced the authority.

An argument by analogy is an indirect argument; it tells you there are
probably direct arguments for the thing you're considering that are
like the direct arguments supporting the analogous thing.

An argument with ambiguous words and sentence constructions in it is
an indirect argument; it tells you that if you picked the right exact
meanings and stuck to them all the way through the argument, you would
probably find yourself with a direct argument.

In all these cases, "logical information" is being left off the table.
Some of the same considerations apply here that apply when ordinary
facts are withheld.

If you know the arguer is arguing in good faith, indirect arguments
are merely a noisy (and "causally distant") signal.

But to the extent that the arguer could be arguing in bad faith — as
an advocate rather than a truth-seeker — the fact that the direct
arguments weren't specified is itself evidence they don't work, just
like when facts aren't given, that's evidence they don't go the
arguer's way.

So I would say that, because indirect arguments create space for
advocates to operate in, discussions between truth-seekers can be
"loose" and still be informative, whereas discussions between
advocates should be "tighter" if they are to have much value."

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