Arguments that frustrate

If you’re making an argument, you should want your argument to be taken in good faith.

But in order to do that you need to make good faith arguments.

A lot of what I see happening online (and this isn’t recent, by the way, it’s happened since at least since I was on the internet, which is pretty much since the beginning of the world wide web) is folks making arguments not because they believe them, but because they believe their opponents will be unable to refute them.

A common antivax argument goes, “Woah woah woah, what about bodily autonomy? What about my body, my choice? Why should I have to get a vaccine?”

To be clear, antivaxxers do not believe this argument. They do not believe in bodily autonomy in the same way they imagine their opponents do (whether or not that’s true). They’re not speaking out of some deep respect for anyone’s bodily autonomy, if they even understand what that means.

They make this argument not to convince, but to frustrate. That’s the definition of a bad faith argument. There’s no way you can take this kind of logic seriously because no one in the discussion actually believes it.

Personally, I think there’s some ideological underpinnings here (leaning on Eco’s Ur-Fascism and Sartre’s view of anti-Semitic speech), in that some ideologies simply don’t take their own words seriously. Or, to put it another way, they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.

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