Monday, February 13, 2006

How to Disagree

Thanks to Jerry Cohen for this.

Imagine a range of positions on some single dimension (e.g. left-right) issue, which we can number from 1 to 20. This is the usual pattern of disagreements:

X says: 13 is/represents the truth.
Y says: 15? You’re crazy. More like 7.
X says: You’ve mischaracterised my view as 17. It’s really 12. As for your view the truth is 5, that’s ridiculous…

Try it in long-running journal debates, e.g. the one between Jerry and Ronald Dworkin on expensive tastes. I think it’s amazingly accurate.

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