On Rational Arguments
I’m noticing a trend lately in a lot of liberal blogs that deal with issues of oppression and privilege, in which people are not bothering to make an actual, cogent argument demonstrating their claims of oppression
There’s this trend of saying, “I’m oppressed (or that other group over there is oppressed) because I say so, and if you don’t believe me, it’s because you’re privileged.”
But this can degenerate quickly. By this logic, anything can become an oppression. I can claim I have non-Android-user oppression because my spouse has access to all kinds of awesome apps that aren’t available on my iPhone and sometimes I feel sad or frustrated about that. Never mind that I have awesome apps not available to him, and that having a smartphone in the first place could never be related to an oppression that I face, but rather a privilege.
But I mean, seriously. If we don’t have any standard beyond “I feel bad and therefore I’m oppressed” then all of this becomes nonsense. If we can’t make a rational argument demonstrating, with evidence and clear logic, what that oppression consists of, then how can we even be sure it exists ourselves?
There are a lot of things I feel bad about. They are not all oppressions. There are a lot of ways people hurt me. They are not all oppressing me. The claim of oppression is weighty, and it requires serious intellectual weight behind it. No single one of us has to do that work alone, but we also can’t throw the value of that work out the window ala conservative anti-intellectuals claiming that logical discourse and information gathering aren’t as important as personal feelings.