We're taught to evaluate an argument based on its internal logic. I'm starting to think this is a mistake. We should also consider where it leaves us, and whether we want to be there. If we end up in a place where we don't want to be, we should start looking for a counter-argument, or a flaw in the original argument. If we can't find either, then in extremis we ought to discard the original argument: assume a can opener!
This by way of further rumination on the familiar lesser-evil argument. The impeccable soundness of its logic was vindicated in an earlier post here. But where does it leave us? Helpless, passive, able only to sign off, year after year, on an increasingly evil lesser evil, and try to persuade ourselves that we feel good about it. It's hard to believe that we received the divine gift of reason solely in order to forge our own chains.
My daughter and I went to see The Master yesterday. It's long and slow but worth it. One of the things that struck me was The Master's insistence that people are different from animals, or ought to be. I was thinking that maybe we might have something to learn from the animals.
You'll never se a squirrel trapped by a syllogism. He might be cornered by a dog, or swept up for breakfast by a hawk, but he won't have talked himself into his predicament.