Are wikidebates a good thing?

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Are wikidebates a good thing? Wikidebates are pages that show a binary (yes-no) question or motion, and a hierarchically itemized structure of arguments for, arguments against, objections to them, objections to objections, and so on. What is meant by "good" is left open for the debaters to consider. The guidelines for wikidebates are at Wikidebate/Guidelines.

Contrasts and key concepts: treatise vs. debate, monologue vs. dialogue, argument, argument for, argument against, objection, objection to objection, statement vs. question, atomic argument vs. compound argument.

Wikidebates are a good thing

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  • Argument for Wikidebates allow to collect responses to arguments, including poor but relatively often occurring arguments.
  • Argument for Unlike a treatise typical of an encyclopedia or an academic article, a hierarchical debate encourages search for objections. In a sense, it is a more honest search for truth than treatise. It helps the person writing the debate discover problems that would be left not discovered in the treatise form, and one only needs to consider this very page to see that.
    • Objection The dialectic process does not need to be exposed to the reader. The author should use the dialectic process to discover the truth and then present the reader with a treatise format showing the truth.
      • Objection By exposing the dialectic process to the readers, we teach them how to think. We show them how that works. We encourage them to use a similar process to discover errors and weaknesses in their argumentation. The educational value is great.
      • Objection For some subjects, it may be impossible to arrive at certain truth. Even if one abandons the specific debate format for them, the dialectical argument structure will leak into the treatise format in some way. It seems neater to expose the dialectical nature of certain problems directly than in the indirect treatise way.
  • Argument for Debates are productively used in British politics and are a staple of British intellectual life, including those organized by W:Intelligence Squared and W:Oxford Union. That is inconclusive yet suggestive: perhaps this culture has some merits worth examining.
  • Argument for Dialogues were put to good use in philosophy both ancient and modern, including Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Galileo, Lakatos and Hofstadter. For more authors, see W:Socratic dialogue. There is likely to be some wisdom in this practice. This is inconclusive yet suggestive.
    • Objection True. However, a dialogue in philosophy is a much broader phenomenon than the debate in wikidebate. The kinds of nodes in a wikidebate are arguments, and the kind of relations are "X supports Y" and "X refutes or criticizes Y". Philosophical dialogs are not restricted to arguments. Plato's dialogs featured questions. (They also featured other material.) Therefore, the wide use of dialogue does little to establish that the specific form of argument for, argument against and objection is the core of the wisdom of these dialogues.
      • Objection Fair enough. However, the structure of argument for, argument against and objection (which is argument against a subargument) is often used in these dialogues. Admittedly, these dialogues often do feature questions as key elements, and Wikidebates, narrowly construed, do not support questions. (Some already do contain questions, but that may be a violation of the format narrowly construed.) Nonetheless, the plentiful presence of the argument structure in these dialogues has some force, as inconclusive as it may be.
    • Objection One should not make inconclusive arguments. These should be dismissed and not allowed into the discussion; they just make it harder to follow.
      • Objection Even inconclusive arguments or arguments that have some force but not full force should be admitted as long as they have some cognitive or reasoning value. In this case, the argument serves as a form of double check, to point out a certain practice is widely followed. Sure, even bad practices are all too often in widespread use, but one should perhaps be much more cautious about an entirely innovative practice with no precedent than about practice that is widely used.
      • Objection A benefit of pointing to existing practice is that the reader can have a look at that practice and see for themselves whether it makes sense.
        • Objection To see whether the practice makes sense, the reader only needs to have a look at the example wikidebates in Wikiversity. There is no need to point to specific examples elsewhere.
          • Objection Since Wikiversity is edited by amateurs, it is all too likely to show not the best of the genre. To see the potential of the genre and format, one has to look at some of the best that it can offer, not to some of the most amateurish.
      • Objection The standard of excluding inconclusive arguments would make the debate format impossible. The fact that arguments made do not have the full logical force is the essence of the dialectical nature of the debate. If an argument has full logical force, no more objections are required.
        • Objection Even fully conclusive arguments can have some objections, invalid ones.
          • Objection But then the invalid objections would not be allowed, since they are not only inconclusive but outright invalid. The whole to-and-fro structure would need to be eliminated. And for philosophical subjects that often depend on non-shared assumptions, the arguments are necessarily inconclusive.
            • Objection It just isn't clear why an argument should be made of which the arguer immediately admits it is inconclusive. While it is true we need to allow inconclusive arguments (as per the above argumentation), we do not need to allow arguments that admit to be inconclusive as part of the argument.
              • Objection Anyone who makes some form of inductive or extrapolative argument in sciences must know, if they are properly trained, that the argument is logically inconclusive; see W:Problem of induction. The rejection of arguments of which we know from their form that they are logically inconclusive would eliminate coverage of most of empirical science.
                • Objection That would only be true for the truly problematic induction, by which someone concludes from "for all cases of F that we know of, G was true" that "for all cases of F, G is true". The consequence should then speak of probability, not certainty.
                  • Objection That would make the language of discussing empirical facts cumbersome. We would need to admit uncertainty in principle all the time. We would no longer be able to use "the Sun will rise tomorrow" as a certain input into discussion, but rather "probably". Thus, we would need to sprinkle all statements with "probably", but that would rob the word "probably" of any differentiating power. As said, the standard of eliminating all inconclusiveness is very impractical.
                    • Objection Good points. However, there are levels of inconclusiveness. The extrapolation from philosophical dialogues to wikidebates is a weak form of induction, unlike "the sun will rise tomorrow". We need to differentiate weaker and stronger cases of induction, forming a whole relational structure. The structure is probably not a simple scale but rather some relatively complex order relation.
                      • Objection This is getting mathematical. Better stop here.
  • Argument for Debates give fair hearing to multiple points of view. Some things are objectively true and false, but other depend on culturally-dependent assumptions.
    • Objection So let Hitler speak for 5 minutes and then let Jews speak for 5 minutes?
      • Objection Sure. The vital thing is not to prevent Hitler from speaking but to make sure Jews cannot be silenced.
        • Objection Hitler, being a persuasive speaker, can convince masses of a bad doctrine.
          • Objection The masses are not stupid. They are culpable, to blame. Even if Aryan race were superior, would a truly superior race rule by attempted extermination of another ethnic, rather than acting as a ruler race above that ethnic? Unfortunately, humans in general have a great capacity for evil as well as good. It was Christians who, despite their nominal creed, treated the inhabitants of Americans badly. All too many people are liars, pretenders and frauds. Some of the best hopes is to create societies where the nasty human tendencies are kept in check by set up rules and institutions.
            • Objection What if the masses believed that the international Jew was to blame for bad things?
              • Objection What were the Slavic people to blame for, except for being of less worth than the master race? Surely not for international capitalism.
            • Objection Maybe you are a liar, a pretender and fraud.
              • Objection Don't believe me a single word. Examine each argument as possibly made by a sly sophist. Try to find independent sources of information and reasoning. Don't trust me on authority.
  • Argument for Debates provide a tool for examining of culture and human thought. They help answer the question: what could have been their reasoning? Most human reasoning is inconclusive; the search is not for conclusive reasoning but rather for reasoning that has some force. Conclusive reasoning is ideal, but perfectly logically conclusive reasoning is found only in mathematics, and sound empirically conclusive reasoning is found in science. In investigations of morality, legality, shoulds and oughts, the reasoning is often inconclusive, yet not entirely hopeless and uninformative, and for such a situation, the debate format is a very good fit.
  • Argument for Debates encourage participants to dare to think and to run the risk of being wrong. Since, one is not required to make correct argument but rather interesting arguments. It is the business of the opposition to find flaws in the arguments made.
  • Argument for The interaction between argument, objection and counterobjection is often more interesting and lively than an encyclopedic monologue. That is not about utility but about attractiveness.
  • Argument for A debate can be seen as a form of persuasive writing. It provides objective evidence that the author took some arguments against their position seriously, and which they are. Objections can be conspicuous by their absence, revealing the lack of understanding, insight or erudition on part of the author.
  • Argument for Britannica's procon.org lists 3 pros and 3 cons for each question it considers, without providing a nested rebuttal structure. It can be accused of some of the things as wikidebates: it suggests relativism instead of absolute truth. Wikidebates have the advantage of listing more arguments and listing rebuttals. The model of procon.org is not conclusive, but is suggestive: they must see some merit in what they are doing.
  • Argument for The debate format invites arguments that are incorrect but perhaps contain some elements of truth, and thereby have some informative value. (A similar argument was made by Mill in defense of free speech.) Such arguments can be likened to ore, from which the metal has to be extracted. Thus, a debate can be likened to a mining and metallurgy operation. A similar notion is the adage, don't bite my finger, look where I am pointing.
    • Objection That is an interesting yet inconclusive point. Encouraging debaters to include low-quality arguments and then defend them by saying that there is at east a grain of truth in there and therefore they should be made does not seem obviously wise. One must be able to criticize arguments as incorrect and the don't-bite-my-finger should not be used as a line of defense. (This is similar to Popper's argument that contradictions between theses, arguments and observations, even if perhaps hard to avoid, must be seen as a problem to be corrected and not as the unavoidable good as implied by Hegel. Popper's conjectures and refutations (for sciences) and Lakatos' proofs and refutations (for mathematics) seem to be better concepts than Hegelian thesis, antithesis and synthesis.)
      • Objection A fair point. However, the idea is more like allowing ore (impure arguments) into debate, but not defending ore against metal extraction, defending arguments against valid criticism.
  • Argument for A fairly marginal yet real benefit of a debate page is that it maps a question to most relevant further reading. Furthermore, the page can state related search terms to help the reader find more relevant further reading. That is of value even if the dialogue itself was poor.
    • Objection This provides a rationale for creating pages that map questions to Wikipedia articles and further reading, not for the debate format.
  • Argument for The debate structure is sometimes implicit or implied in the philosophical literature. Thus, Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies can be seen as a Popper's debate with Plato, Hegel, Marx, Heraclitus and other philosophers. Thus, Popper presents thought and arguments by the "enemies" and provides his responses and criticism. While the format is one of a monologue or treatise, the debate structure is apparent. Especially present is the daring to present objectionable ideas that some will find convincing. Thus, Popper runs the risk of spreading dangerous ideas. He probably thinks these are well spread anyway (which seems true enough), and what he is really doing is neutralizing them as best as he can. What wikidebates are doing is make the debate structure explicit. That is inconclusive yet suggestive.
  • Argument for The debate structure is sometimes implicit or implied in scientific literature. Thus, Darwin's Origin of Species contained not only argument in support but also a section where he addressed possible objections or reservations, which are like arguments against, and Darwin's responses are like objections to these arguments against. What wikidebates are doing is make the debate structure explicit. That is inconclusive yet suggestive.
  • Argument for The comment-response structure is well proven in engineering reviews. The comment is like an argument against and the response is like an objection to that argument for the cases where the comment (issue) is rejected. That is inconclusive yet suggestive.
  • Argument against Wikidebates support relativism, the idea that nothing is true or correct and to every argument there is a counterargument.
    • Objection They may give that impression but the perceptive reader will realize that is not so. The reader will realize about many arguments that they are wrong even without reading the objections. And for unanswered objections, the reader will often be able to tell that they were wrong. The perceptive reader will not think that an unanswered objection has necessarily won.
      • Objection Many a reader will get the impression that there is some kind of disagreement between two sides of the argument and that there is no obvious winner. It is in part because no position is eventually sustained, and parties hardly ever admit mistakes, in part since there are so many parties. The responses do not have any party identified, so each response may be as if from a different person. The overall impression is one of relativity, and not of a sustained conclusion. This stands in sharp contrast to a mathematical proof.
        • Objection These are fair points. They are perhaps not entirely damning, but worth considering.
  • Argument against Wikidebates duplicate encyclopedic articles. Thus, for a debate about the existence of God, there is already a Wikipedia article covering philosophical arguments for the idea much better.
    • Objection That is true to some extent. However, an encyclopedic article does not provide a neat itemized structure of arguments and counterarguments. And encyclopedic articles take the stance of search for verified truth, whereas the essence of arguments in a debate is that they are at least moderately interesting and relevant but inconclusive and open to valid criticism, which may then lead to refinement of the arguments to withstand the criticism. One may be reminded of Hegel's dialectics with its thesis, antithesis and synthesis, but equally well of Karl Popper's Conjectures and Refutations. Thus, science and philosophy begin with problems, which lead to tentative solutions, which lead to criticism and modified versions of the solutions or to other solutions, which then leads to further criticism, etc. Thus, there was Ptolemaic astronomy, on which Kepler was an improvement, but then Newton's laws were an improvement on Kepler's laws, and Einstein's relativity is an improvement on Newton.
    • Objection While Wikipedia does cover arguments for and against on some topics, it thereby in part abandons the style of reporting facts about a subject and switches on meta-level. Thus, instead of presenting us with a true statement X traced to sources, it leaves the truth of X undecided and instead presents arguments Y in support and arguments Z in opposition. Thus, it is not so much that wikidebates duplicate Wikipedia as that Wikipedia duplicates Wikidebates.
      • Objection That is debatable. It is normal encyclopedic practice for philosophical subjects to cover arguments for and against, e.g. for existence of God. Wikipedia is not going to drop that practice any time soon. And it will attract many more editors than Wikiversity, leading to higher-quality content.
        • Objection The problem of attracting editors is a fair point, but it pertains to Wikiversity platform itself, and not specifically to wikidebates. At a minimum, wikidebates are worth trying since the benefits of the format are undeniable; in the worst case, Wikiversity will have wikidebate pages of poor quality. By hosting original research, Wikiversity gives up on some of the quality aspects of Wikipedia, in an experiment to see how far the wiki technology can be pushed for the purpose. From that standpoint, wikidebates are a meaningful experiment with a sound format, and whether it will attract enough skilled editors remains to be seen. There is already some good content, so things look hopeful.
      • Objection Likening the progression of arguments in, say, politics and ethics to science may be misleading. Does ethics really make such progress as physics?
        • Objection Let us leave aside the question whether ethics makes progress. Even if ethics does not make progress, it is all the more important to show ethics as a debate and not only as a treatise.
        • Objection Perhaps ethics does not make progress in the same way as physics does. But the improved exploration of the idea and argument space is a real intellectual progress. Thus, we have Hume's is-ought distinction, we have the idea of speciesism, and so on. Ethics as a collection of interesting ideas and arguments made progress; it is for the reader to tell which they find most convincing. The reader is helped by having a menu to choose from, to aid their independent thought. Some readers will fall for bad arguments, some won't.
  • Argument against In order to collect all relevant arguments, the debate would have to become very long and hard to follow.
    • Objection The selection of arguments may be a challenge. For some domains of argumentation, the arguments can be sourced from literature, using literature as inclusion criterion. The problem is real but perhaps not intractable.
  • Argument against Without objective, rule-based or algorithmic inclusion criteria, the wikidebates are open to whim of editors. Poor arguments can easily arrive at the top and poor and poorly worded objections can accumulate. Endless objections, objections to objections, etc. can develop without adding any real value.
    • Objection That is a real problem but perhaps not intractable. We will see. Some vague inclusion criteria can be developed, such as: the argument must have some minimum relevance, some minimum plausibility or at least frequency of being used; the wording should be in native English and if it is not, someone should try to reword it.
    • Objection A similar argument perhaps applies to Wikipedia as well, yet Wikipedia often does fine if imperfect job. The precise details of selection of material to include and the order of presentation are far from algorithmic in Wikipedia, as if a job for mindless untalented people focused on correcting spelling mistakes, comma splice and other aspects of writing mechanics.
  • Argument against Wikidebates create the impression that serious issues can be decided by using material fitting into relatively small chunks of text. In science, that is not so. A scientific article is the proper means of persuasion.
    • Objection Many arguments are relatively simple.
      • Objection Most simple arguments are incorrect. Worse yet, too many simple incorrect arguments are superficially plausible.
        • Objection Simple and incorrect arguments can often be refuted by simple and correct counter-arguments. The reader of a debate can learn why certain simple and superficially appealing arguments are wrong or inconclusive. While the reader may not learn the truth of the debated matter, they may be able to avoid certain oversimplifications and fallacies related to the matter. Thus, the reader's understanding of the matter may be advanced.
    • Objection That may be true for some subjects, but not for all. Many subjects afford at least some summarizing arguments to be made. Some arguments actually made can be presented by a sentence or a paragraph.
    • Objection In televised debates, there is not much more room for argument presentation than a wikidebate affords either.
      • Objection Televised debates may be interesting but are no golden standard for doing science and serious logical analysis. They may oversimplify political issues as well. At worst, televised debates can turn into a display of skilled rhetoric, where search for truth suffers. A scientist proper would perhaps prefer the medium of text anyway for the time it affords to carefully choose words.
        • Objection It would perhaps be best to look at specific debates that turned bad like that, or provide a link that discusses such debates.
          • Objection Ideally, yes, but for a start, anyone can try to look at some debates and see whether they were really most productive in search for truth.
            • Objection Whatever the weaknesses of such debates, the audience gets to hear both sides. By contrast, people all too often tend to read and listen to sources they tend to agree with, staying within their own bubble. If nothing else, the debate format bursts such bubbles.
              • Objection What if one side got poor defenders of it? The debate about the Catholic Church from Intelligence Squared was unfair: there were two heavyweights arguing against the Catholic Church, whereas the speakers in support were relatively weak, not doing the best advocacy available.
                • Objection Fair point. However, unlike a televised debate, the wikidebate can eventually be expanded by editors who arrive later, and thus can eventually attract good advocates for the side that initially got poor ones. And the wikidebate can accumulate some of the best further reading arguing for and against the motion available, to complement the debate itself.
  • Argument against Wikidebates are redundant to Britannica's procon.org pages. Britannica's procon.org is much more professional than wikidebates can ever hope to be, and will receive many more page views: the arguments are well referenced, well chosen, and there is an initial good introduction into each question. The utility of wikidebates is very small.
    • Objection Wikidebates have a richer format by providing a nested structure of objections. Thus, they allow the true dialectic process to truly unfold. Procon.org is like a debate where speakers can make their initial speeches but are not allowed to respond to each other's arguments; that is not the usual debate format. The educational value of the argument-rebuttal-counterrebuttal structure is great. It exposes the Popperian philosophy: a hypothesis may have a falsifier, but the falsifier itself can be subjection to falsification. Thus, in abstract analysis, a theory is hardly ever fully conclusively falsified. (Practically speaking, it is not quite true: some falsifiers are practically conclusive. This is a more confirmation of the dialectic process: one says something interesting and nearly valid, but not entirely valid. If one is only allowed to say certain and true things and correct arguments, one should better stay silent.)
    • Objection Wikidebates can cover many more subjects and questions than procon.org currently covers, like Wikipedia covers many more subjects than Britannica does.
    • Objection Britannica is much more professional than Wikipedia in many way, yet Wikipedia is a huge success. There is a hope that Wikidebates can also become a success; we need to see how far the wiki format can be pushed for the purpose. If we give up from the start, we will never find out.
  • Argument against Wikidebates will contribute to the spread of some of the most compelling demagoguery or sophism (deceptive yet appealing argument) available. Whether the objections will succeed in neutralizing this kind of material is unclear. They will spread some of the most odious philosophy the world has seen.
    • Objection A fair point. However, the odious philosophy is usually already available for anyone who cares to look. Thus, anyone who has a cursory look at Heraclitus learns that war is the father of all things and a great thing, or something of the sort. Anyone who reads Popper will learn about the ideas of the philosophers he is opposing. To neutralize this kind of matter with objections and debate is some of the best things we can do about it. To censor the world's philosophy does not seem to be the solution.
  • Argument against A debate about whether an aggressive war is good is too likely to accumulate some of the most compelling arguments for this evil proposition. Accumulation of the most compelling arguments for both sides is part of the method of the wikidebate; it is currently indicated to include "all arguments". These arguments do not need to be logically incorrect, merely rest on fundamentally evil assumptions about what is good, just and moral. The result will be a spread of pro-war words or propaganda in a particularly concentrated form, possibly to be likened to creation of a critical mass of fissile material that can explode. Another analogy is that to argument armament on both sides, arms race. The hope that arguments against and objections will neutralize these pro-war words is not based on any evidence or proof, and may be merely wishful thinking. This accumulation of evil words may lead to tangible harm in the real world if some people we be mentally defenseless against these words and will be lead to do bad things.
    • Objection If the above is accepted without reservation, it does not mean that the wikidebate format is bad but rather that some topics are better left not covered and left for the readers to investigate. The problem does not seem to rest with the debate format in particular: Wikipedia has an article covering arguments for slavery and if it covered arguments for aggressive war in similar fashion, it would also create a possibly critical mass of fissile material. Thus, the question is whether we should censor and whether we should approach highly morally problematic subjects with an open mind, not whether we should debate. This question can be discussed without blaming the debate format.
      • Objection The search for arguments for evil propositions is a key element of the debate format. A Wikipedia article on arguments for aggressive war would have that element incorporated.
        • Objection Fair enough. Still, the objection can be addressed by avoiding certain subjects, while taking advantage of the debate format for other subjects that are not so highly morally problematic and are actually being publicly debated.
    • Objection Those who seek texts arguing in favor of war will easily find them on the Internet, with no objections stated. Thus, a search for "why war is good" finds multiple articles arguing for the motion at length, including the horrible text The Benefits of War from 19th century by a U.S. admiral. It is not surprising: those in military positions are likely to find a range of rationalizations and a lot of it does not need to be related to defense. By using more search terms, one can find more.
      • Objection True. However, that will not create concentration of the most compelling material that can be discovered by multiple editors editing a wikidebate. Even novel devious arguments can be added. It may be likened to experimenting with viruses dangerous to humans, viruses of the mind.
        •  Comment There is some force in the above argument but the risk needs to be put in proportion to the totality of base risk already existing, and the potential benefit from allowing us to quote evil words and then object to them.
    • Objection Karl Popper's The Open Society quotes various German thinkers speaking positively of war. Thus, Popper also creates an accumulation of material. Maybe the material is not the most compelling, but it is at least material from a range of thinkers. Popper runs the risk that someone will find some of that material compelling. He does not even bother to explain to the reader why an aggressive war is bad; rather, he takes that as granted and uses his quotation material to blame Hegel and various German thinkers for creating and spreading a pro-war philosophy. Popper's stance is anti-war, and he does not think to spread pro-war thinking but rather to fight it by exposing it.
      • Objection Maybe Popper is wrong in his judgment that what he is doing is harmless. The above is interesting but inconclusive.
    • Objection Anyone who pays any attention to history will realize that the belief that aggressive war is good is widespread through societies and eras. Wars of territorial expansions are know from 18th, 19th, 20th and 21th centuries as well as earlier centuries. Anyone who studies the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin can use them as inspiration and yet, we do not give up documenting these atrocities. Unlike Hitler, Stalin is in part seen positively in Russia, the reasoning behind being too obvious: the self-preservation and growth of a large collective entity is more important than human rights. To prevent aggressive wars, we rely above all on the worldly power of countries that can attack other countries engaging in an aggressive war and the worldly power of defensive military alliances; to some extent, we rely on innate moral sense and its interaction with arguments for and against. What a wikidebate does is explicitly document the structure of the argument space for anyone to understand better the minds of perpetrators. Not everyone would figure it out by themselves, but people with good moral sense are unlikely to be convinced that aggressive war is good; rather, they will understand the thinking of their adversaries better. If they find the thinking of their adversaries odious yet hard to argue against, that may reinforce their realization that evil cannot be overcome by mere argument.
    • Objection A wikidebate collects not only the most compelling evil arguments for war but also the most compelling objections to them and most compelling arguments against war. The result may turn some people to evil but it also may turn some people to good. We do not know what the sum total is.
      • Objection The precautionary principle would tell us that if we do not know whether the action considered does more good than harm, we should not do it.
        • Objection Good point. But what it would mean is that we are not allowed to try to understand the evil mind and how it is formed from argument structure perspective, or if we are allowed to do so, then only behind a closed door. That creates analytical harm, by preventing our analytical powers from developing.
        • Objection The precautionary principle is not obviously correct. It says that we should err on the side of non-intervening in so far as creating a new page, a wikidebate, is creating a new intervention in the state of affairs. Thus, if the probability of more good than harm were 70%, a strict precautionary principle would say we should not do it.
    • Objection The risk needs to be put in perspective. The holy texts of world religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam contain enough God approval for an aggressive war. The additional possible harm created by a wikidebate does not seem particularly big.
      • Objection Wikidebate should not be making matters even worse, adding more evil verbal material to that already existing.
        • Objection The wikidebate does not only add the evil material, it also adds good material: the objections against the evil arguments. And the wikidebate cannot do so without quoting these evil arguments. Thus, the development of arsenal against evil involves quoting evil so that one can object to it. Admittedly, none of that is conclusive since on some level of analysis, the questions involved are empirical in principle and cannot be properly answered by mere abstract arguments as we try to do here.
    • Objection In Sea-Wolf, Jack London presents the philosophy of Wolf Larsen, a captain who sees no value in human life except to serve his needs and whims and explains why he thinks so. It is not a defense of that kind of philosophy but an implicit criticism of it. This is one more little confirmation that evil ideas and arguments are easily found and authors are not afraid of exposing them. While this is not about war, presenting such arguments can be quite dangerous: those convinced by them may act in private without being caught. London does not seem to think to be convincing putative criminals to be ones.
      • Objection London may be wrong.

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