This past semester I took a course in logic, which included a very extensive discussion of a little over 15 major logical fallacies, such as the straw man argument or argument ad verecundiam, or appeal to false authority. By the end of the semester, my roommate – who was also in the class – and I would have whole conversations attempting to call each other out on fallacies (incredibly geeky, I know).
Anyway, formal knowledge of logic and logical fallacies is particularly helpful in politics, because political rhetoric is frequently rife with unnoticed logical errors (I’d recommend a logic class to anyone interested in politics – I’ve found that it’s incredibly useful in any discussion to be able to specifically name the logical error you are arguing against). Jim Fedako of the Anti-Positivist blog has a great piece on LewRockwell.com today on the false dilemma which is presented when liberty and security are offered as alternatives. He argues “there is never a need to exchange liberty for security, ever. In fact: the greater the liberty, the greater the security.” Fedako continues:
Liberty provides security, not government. Oh, sure, some will say that we need a strong government to keep us safe. However, you have to ask: Does government really keep us safe? My biggest concern in the near term is the likely action of the incoming administration to expand our endless war and, in the end, waste the lives of my children. This is a real concern and a real possibility, more so than any assumed threat my neighbors pose absent the intrusive state. In addition, when one considers areas under private control (Disneyland, etc.) to areas under government control (city streets, etc.), it becomes apparent that private lands are safer than public lands. Will I have a better chance of being mugged on Main Street, Disneyland, or on my local Main Street? The answer is obvious and telling.