Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Phantom arguments

If you're easily annoyed by fake English accents, then don't watch this video.


At 3/11/2008 9:44 AM , Blogger Psiomniac said...

Ha ha ha I loved it. Dick Van Dyke would be proud.

I would draw a distinction between phantom arguments on the one hand, and referring to arguments that are in the public domain on the other. (I'm not implying you are unaware of this distinction). So when you reference, say the kalam as formulated by WLC then you are not using a phantom argument because I can check it and respond by saying, for example, that relying on 'metaphysical intuition' to validate the premise that nothing can begin to exist uncaused from absolutely nothing, is a weakness. We could talk about why and you might disagree that it is a weakness, or we might rule such arguments as too long-winded for a comments section.
By the same token, if I say that I think all versions of the cosmological argument that I have read, fall to Hume's counter-arguments, I am not using a phantom argument.

At 3/11/2008 10:06 AM , Blogger Sam said...

I'm so glad you approve! :-)

I debated with myself about whether I should consider your reference to Hume as a phantom argument, and I decided not to since, as you say, it's open to the public. Anybody can read Hume's book. But more importantly, you weren't offering it as an argument. You didn't expect me to be convinced merely by saying, "Hume refuted that."

On the other hand, "phantom argument" isn't a technical term, so it depends on what people mean by it. You could consider any appeal to authority as a phantom argument since you're basically just saying there's an argument out there without saying what the argument is.

If you were in a debate, for example, where there are time or length restrictions, it would be cheating to say, "Hume refuted this," or "Bertrand Russel proved that" without going through their arguments or really grappling with the other person's argument. I think you could consider that making an phantom argument.


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