dp thoughts.png

Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Conflating Arguments


"Billionaires should pay more taxes and becoming a billionaire shouldn't be allowed!"


"Pipelines create valuable jobs and are necessary for our economy."


"We must protect freedom of speech and expression in universities, and we must do so at all costs."


The three sentences above are intentionally polarizing, and it certainly wouldn't be difficult to find people who could passionately argue either for or against any of these declarations.


But aside from the strong stances, did you notice anything else about each of the examples above?


Each sentence conflates two separate thoughts into a single, unified position.


It's certainly possible to believe that billionaires should be allowed to exist yet also believe those that do should pay more in tax.


A pipeline might be necessary to a given economy for a reason other than the valuable jobs they create, for instance, or they might create valuable jobs but not be necessary to the economy in light of alternative options available.


Protecting freedom of speech may be extremely important to you, but you could also believe "at all costs" is too extreme and easily think of examples where you might prefer that speech should be limited.


If you didn't notice the conflated arguments above, you may have instantly agreed with the first half of the sentence and then not bothered to give the second part its own critical assessment.


It's too easy to dismiss an entire point of view when we only disagree with a part of it.


But it's okay to agree or disagree with only part of an argument.


It seems like society forgets that sometimes.

If you liked this post, don't miss the next one: get dpThoughts delivered to your inbox up to three times each week. 

(Or add me to your RSS feed and get every post in your reader as soon as it's published.)