On Commenting, Etc.

The following originally appeared H E R E (complete with comments, 3/05).

What if we were held accountable for posts & comments within a classroom? All posting members — bloggers & commentators — would be required to gather periodically within an academic setting of accountability. We’d have to brush up on particular terms and their definitions in order to: (1) understand the professor’s moderation, (2) correct our own errors, and (3) grow, both personally and communally. Here are some examples:

AD HOMINEM: Appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect. Marked by an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.

APPEAL TO IGNORANCE (fallacy): Assuming that because a statement can’t be disproved, it must be true.

ARGUMENT: A statement (the conclusion) and one or more additional statements (the premises) offered in support of the conclusion.

BEGGING THE QUESTION: Assuming what one is trying to prove; presenting a version of the conclusion as if it were an additional statement in support of the conclusion.

CAUSAL LAWS: Inevitable patterns in nature, such that when certain events occur (“the cause”) certain other events must occur (“the effect”).

CONSEQUENTIALIST ETHICAL THEORIES: Those ethical theories which claim that what makes actions right or wrong are their consequences.

DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICAL THEORIES: Those ethical theories which deny that what makes actions right or wrong are their consequences.

DIAKRISIS: Discernment of good and evil, of the divine and the demonic, of what is appropriate to do. Consequently, discretion, the golden mean (via media).

DIATRIBE: A bitter and abusive speech or writing. Ironical or satirical criticism.

DUCKING THE QUESTION: Avoiding answering a question.

FALLACY: A type of erroneous reasoning.

FATALISM: The view that some specified events must occur in a person’s life, no matter what that person may choose to do.

FREE WILL: The concept that (at least some) human choices are not governed by causal laws.

FREE WILL DEFENSE (The): Claims that it would be contradictory for God to give people free will and guarantee that they not cause suffering; further,
that free will and suffering is better than no free will and no suffering.

GOSSIP: A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others. Rumour or report of an intimate nature. Chatty talk.

HATE: Intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.

HUBRIS: Exaggerated pride or self-confidence.

HYPERBOLE: Extravagant exaggeration.

LOGICAL IMPLICATION: If statement A logically implies statement B, that means that if A is true, then B must also be true.

LOGICAL INCOMPATIBILITY: Two statements are logically incompatible if the truth of one implies the falsity of the other and vice versa.

MORAL OBJECTIVISM: The view that where there is a moral judgment and its negation, one of those judgments must be false; that there is such a thing as the moral truth.

MORAL SUBJECTIVISM: The view that where there is a moral judgment and its negation, neither judgment need be false; that there is no such a thing as the moral truth.

NORMATIVE ETHICAL: Relating to questions about what is morally good or bad, right or wrong, required or not required.

OXYMORON: A witty statement, all the more pointed because it is presented as a paradox whereby two contradictory terms are used together, as in a
discordant concordance, an eloquent silence, and so forth.

PATHOS: “A disease of the soul.” An inner evil disposition, a passion, created in the soul as the result of repeated consent of evil thoughts.

PHILANTHROPY: Spontaneous love for man. Early Christians used the term frequently when speaking of God’s “love for mankind.”

PHILAUTEIA: Self-love, a spontaneous attachment to oneself. A synonym for one’s own will, the single root of all vices, especially in the writings of Maximos the Confessor.

PRINCIPLE OF NONIDENTITY: If the thing referred to by one phrase has characteristics differing from those of the thing referred to by another
phrase, the two phrases do not refer to the same thing.

QUIDNUNC: A person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip.

SLIPPERY SLOPE FALLACY: Assuming, without specific evidence, that any move in a certain direction will inevitably lead to some terrible extreme.

SOLIPSISM: The view that, with the exception of the belief in one’s own mind, one cannot justify any beliefs about the world.

SOUND ARGUMENT: An argument that is valid and has true premises.

UTILITARIANISM: The moral view that only happiness is good in itself and that one ought to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

VALID ARGUMENT:

DEDUCTIVE: An argument such that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is necessarily true.
INDUCTIVE: An argument such that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is probably true, but not necessarily so.

VERIDICAL: True; genuine; nonillusory.

VIRTUE DEFENSE (The): Claims that it would be contradictory to have virtues and no suffering; further, that virtues and suffering are better than no
virtues and no suffering.

Given my proclivity toward humour, hyperbole, hubris, and worse … I’d most likely be demoted to the remedial class for hopeless reactionaries.

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