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Some very useful rhetorical advice

March 27, 2016

Some useful advice on how to deal with the left from Stacy McCain that comes in large print:

NEVER ACCEPT THE PREMISE
OF YOUR ANTAGONIST’S ARGUMENT!

This is the somewhat expanded version:

Carve that into your cerebral cortex, young men. One of the tricks by which liberals succeed is by smuggling into the argument some dubious premise that they don’t expect you to question. Take for example, “equality.” Exactly what do we mean by “equality”? Where in human history can we locate this “equality” of which the liberal speaks?

A couple of books worth reading — The Mirage of Social Justice by Friedrich Hayek and The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell — will do wonders for helping you see why liberal ideas about “equality” should always be viewed with skepticism. Most people, however, never think seriously about glittering generalities like “equality,” “progress,” “rights,” etc., and are therefore apt to let the liberal get away with smuggling an unexamined premise into the argument. The result is that the liberal easily forces his antagonist into a defensive “me, too” position where, having tacitly accepted the unexamined premise, the conservative cannot avoid certain logical conclusions based on this idea.

Of course, before any of that you have to uncover what that premise is. What you really need to do yourself is to read history and political philosophy, but this is where you need to end up. Might I also suggest Russell Kirk.

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