Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Differing First Principles

The subject of arguing above first principles has recently come up on the NoR forums

Let me just restate my maxim on first principles:

No useful discussion or debate can occur between individuals who have differing first principles on a subject; except as relates to those first principles themselves.

Because higher level arguments are always based on first principles, you need to make sure that all parties in a debate on higher level arguments are proceeding from the same first principle. If the parties to an argument or debate have different first principles, the argument itself cannot be resolved, or even debated.

As an example, this is why it's useless to argue with MOST liberals about gun control in any way.

They are proceeding from the first principle that guns are by their nature bad and/or evil, therefore restrictions on gun ownership are self justified. Their argument from this first principle on gun control, is that the only people who should have guns are the ones that can absolutely prove that they NEED them.

Our first principle is that guns are a useful tool, and an interesting work of engineering and the machinists art. Additionally our larger first principle is that arms are necessary to freedom, because the government that does not fear it's citizens, will ALWAYS result in tyranny.

Thus, our argument on gun control is also self justified, in that only those restrictions on ownership absolutely necessary (and some believe in NO restriciton at all) should be allowed.

At that point it should be obvious that these two higher level positions cannot be argued usefully