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J. Riley Corrigan

Examination of a Discussion

on Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:25 pm
Since Dan has been covering the topic of logic and reasoning, I thought this might be useful.

I tried to have a dialogue on Facebook regarding the danger of misusing words... Needless to say it seems to have passed fruitlessly and I am no longer participating in it. For the benefit of my own improvement, would anyone be willing to read it over and let me know if any major fallacies or poor argument stand out? I am asking for my own benefit so I am really looking for things on my end. What follows is the discussion, We will just call the other person "Player 2" for the sake of this exercise. The original post has been censored for language. The conversation ends after I establish a prerequisite for the continuation of the discussion which "Player 2" flatly refuses to comply with.

Original Post (Not posted by Player 2 or myself)
Fascist. Trump wasn't killing the ACA fast enough by delaying payments, closing down the website and other dirty tricks to disrupt the insurance industry and stop people from signing up. Now with a stroke of a pen he's single-handedly robbing low-income families of their health coverage. The Republican Congress couldn't kill it because the American people don't want it killed. Trump doesn't give a s***. All he wants is a win for himself. Meanwhile, millions of families including YOURS are gonna lose.

J. Riley Corrigan
This is actually a motion against fascism, the centralized control of healthcare being a component of fascism, or socialism which are essentially just forms of collectivism. The idea that the government should not only be in control of approving healthcare methods as well as determining the who and how as to the methods and medicines are paid for is absolutely foundational to the bureaucratic control over the health of each individual person. A fascist approach to this issue would be to consolidate control further and direct it to the executive authority, not congress or the judges because the definition of fascism hinges on a dictator. Over the last few decades our executive has been given undue power, however we can rest assured that no president can on their own be a dictator (YET) as demonstrated by the current disruption of our president's agenda by both the courts and the congress (which is at least in part appropriate by my assessment).

Now none of this is to say that I am defending Trump, (although I have been overall pleased with most of his work as president) nor did I describe particularly my opinion of the ACA. I have merely placed this into the context of the literal definitions of the terms being used. I am deeply concerned, not as much with the changeable and fluid actions of our government, but that we are experiencing a less reversible trend of redefining words and the consolidation of our language. This is clearly Orwellian, whether we believe that this wound to our culture is being inflicted by design or by our own selves I have observed a profuse hemorrhage of rationality spill from our discourse apparently into thin air. The remainder is becoming increasingly unjustifiable, egotistical and incoherent. If we are going to define people in simple terms we must use the correct terms. You may think the president short sighted, uncouth and malicious, but unless he is actually establishing a dictatorship there is absolutely no case to me made that he is a fascist.

Player 2
That last paragraph is particularly funny since, for all of your excessively sanctimonious exhortations about proper use of terms and definitions (not to mention the purple prose "a profuse hemorrhage of rationality", good grief), it is something you do not do yourself when you conflate fascism and socialism as collectivist.

J Riley Corrigan
Definitions from Webster;
Collectivism - a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; also :a system marked by such control
Socialism - any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
Fascism - a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

With respect, I suggest that what you consider undue conflation is actually according to the definition of these terms as an emphasis on common aspects which are essential to each of the three theories.

Player 2
1. Definitions as determined by some arbitrary, CENTRALIZED, AUTOCRATIC, authority, is not the end of analysis.

2. Fascism very obviously stands apart, even in the Webster's definition(s) above, from collectivism and socialism, hence the accusation of conflation.

All of the above is just pedantic nonsense anyways since, even if you were correct on the definitions above, you'd still be wrong because not a single government with a universal/nationalized healthcare system (i.e. almost the rest of the industrialized world) that I know of could seriously be deemed fascist.

J. Riley Corrigan
According to your first statement, we are logically unable to assess the validity of your second statement. To my original point discourse is not possible without the classical and accepted definitions of terms being used. It is for this reason that in studies and laws when words are used that do not classically or completely fit the meaning necessary, or could be interpreted more broadly the terms are given specific definition in an accompanying document. Likewise it is only reasonable to assert that a dictionary or the examination of dictionaries should be a foundational authority on the meaning of terms unless otherwise specified.

Now quite the contrary to your assertion, this set of definitions and, I would argue, the history of these theories provide ample demonstration of the idea that fascism, collectivism and socialism are not fundamentally exclusive of one another and that rather than being completely separate of one another they tend to encourage one another.

The concerning point is that fascism can come about one of two ways, either by the replacement of a government, or by consent of a government. In the latter case it is much less likely that such a transition would be successful unless there already existed a structure of centralized control particularly in the areas that most affect the daily lives of the people, such as economics and health, but also including the force of the military and control of infrastructure and resources. Hence the theory that seizing the means of production is critical to successful revolution.

Please note that I am not insisting that centralization all in all is some kind of slippery slope, rather that if fascism were to occur, centralization is a means by which it can be made possible.

Player 2
No, according to my first statement you don't get to cite a dictionary and, wipe your hands and say, "guess that's settled!". The second statement, to be distinguished from the first (and this would obviously be the case if you wanted to argue in good faith, which you clearly don't), is that, even if we accept that this could be settled with definitions alone, it's obvious fascism isn't as closely related to collectivism and socialism as you'd like us to think.

And, I'm a law student so I know about noscitur a sociis, ejusdem generis, and a whole bunch of other pretentious latin terms that are used in the canons of statutory construction; the "plain language" of a word or phrase certainly is the first step in understanding but none of it matters if an absurdity is produced, which is what happens when you try to tar socialism and fascism as similar.

To anyone else with the patience to actually be following this thread, note how J. Riley is trying to control the conversation and continues to steer it towards irrelevant invocations of logic and linguistic construction without actually addressing the substantive point: almost every industrialized society has universal/nationalized healthcare, and none of them could seriously be considered fascist.

J Riley Corrigan
Ryan, I certainly appreciate your willingness to engage in this conversation, but I must remind you of the context. Your accusation that I am steering the conversation away from the subject of universal/nationalized healthcare is correct because that is not the subject which I sought to address in my original statement. I apologize if I was unclear, apparently in your case my use of the language was distracting.

What I intended to point out was the idea that language is being modified significantly and misused to the point where it is far more difficult for people of different understandings to communicate complex ideas. This is perfectly exemplified in your initial rebuttal in which you first criticize my use of certain words, considering them extravagant and then insist that I am not operating with the same definitions of other words as you have come to accept. I do not fault you in the slightest for disagreeing with me on these points. I only wish that the conversation could continue in the discussion of the original topic.

Whatever audience we have accrued should be able to quickly review the conversation to verify that your appeal to pity is an observation of my attempts to continue along the original track and avoid tangential matters. I am compelled to mention that the point you claim I am avoiding is a straw man put in the place of my own statements. I never said that countries with universal/nationalized healthcare are fascist. My assertion is that universal/nationalized healthcare can be used as leverage against a population to establish fascism, hence removing this leverage is a step away from the possibility of fascism. I also asserted in the same sentence that fascism and the attempt to establish such, in the same way as socialism and collectivism, benefits from the consolidation of healthcare and medicine in general.

I would be willing to continue to argue if we are able to establish that in good faith we will avoid to the best of our abilities the use of logical fallacies including omission. I consider that it would be completely appropriate to indicate any flaws in one another's logic without attacking our character or assuming our intentions so that revision and clarification can be made.

Now if you should be willing to continue, I have presented my running definition of the terms Socialism, Fascism and Collectivism. In order to reach understanding would you be willing to provide your definition of these terms, especially where they differ from mine, so that we may have common discourse?

Player 2
I mean this quite sincerely, consider adopting a more economic use of language. What you wrote above could be easily communicated in way less words. But, for whatever reason, you continue to employ extravagant prose to communicate the simplest ideas.

The continued invocation of logic in these matters has and will always be inappropriate at best and disingenuous at worst. Deduction is impossible in matters outside the realm of math, and Aristotelian/syllogistic logic does not function well because the structure can be manipulated to assert premises that, by their syntax, lead to conclusions that are untrue 'logically', but not factually. Informal fallacies are used as conversation stoppers and considered by too many to be a 'win' when their informal nature means they are not always right.

With my own words in mind I will simply say that, despite your contention about what universal/nationalized healthcare can do to help fascism, such a thing has never actually occurred (as far as I am aware). That is, universal/nationalized healthcare has never been a significant factor in the rise of a fascist regime. The indirect proof of this are the many countries that already offer such a program and are not fascist; like with alleged "voter fraud" you are keenly interested in solutions to a problem that doesn't exist in any significant capacity.
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