Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fending off fallacious attacks on liberty, free-markets, and capitalism

The Freeman editor, Max Borders, has a very helpful collection of effective responses to the seemingly endless variety of irrational attacks on the classical liberal world view.  Most of the fallacies he identifies have formal names and are commonly taught in logic and/or critical thinking classes.  But Borders, pointing out that many defenders of the OLS worldview face criticism via social media, wisely gives them more social media-recognizable labels.  Here's a good example:
23.  We’ve Got to Do Something!: Related to the “start somewhere” fallacy, “We’ve got to do something!” is an argument that really means (a) the State has to do something, and (b) State action is preferable to both no action or private action. Numerous examples of this fallacy appear when opponents think any action riding on good intentions is good enough, consequences be damned. Often, however, it can be demonstrated that it is better for government to do nothing and to stop doing what it’s already doing. (Examples include stimulus spending, regulation, and other forms of intervention.) For government to do nothing is rarely presented as premise subject to debate and evaluation. Someone genuinely open to ideas would ask, “What should be done about this?” and “Who should do it?” Someone genuinely interested in answers would have the courtesy to make explicit what they already believe: “The government has to do something, which is beyond debate. Here’s what I think that something should be.” 
There are thirty such entries in his article, most of which are definitely helpful, all of which are worth reading.