It seems as if, during our current debate over gun control, there is a growing number of people who are incredulous about the notion that they need to be concerned about defending themselves against the government. They view people who have such a concern as conspiracy theorists and out-right lunatics. What do we have to fear from our government? Our government would never turn against us!
My question is: do these people choose to ignore history or are they genuinely ignorant of it? History provides one example after another of governments attacking their own people! It staggers the mind that anyone could ignore this!
I used to think that Hegel was just being pessimistic when he said, “what experience and history teach is that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Now, I think he was on to something.
I’m always looking for fresh illustrations of logical fallacies for my Logic classes. I sometimes get the impression from students that the fallacies we talk about are so obvious that they only occur in logic books. “How could anyone be so foolish as to argue this way?” So, in order to show them that people make fallacious arguments all the time, I try and show them contemporary examples of fallacies at work. (The so-called “Internet Atheists” have furnished me with a nice long list; see here). But now, thanks to Piers Morgan, I have a wonderful example of Argumentum Ad Hominem. I’ll now be showing this clip to my Logic classes for the next few years until a better example comes along:
Epicurus argues that the experience of pleasure is what makes us happy. Conversely, St. Thomas argues that happiness gives us pleasure. The question seems to be, “Does pleasure lead to happiness or does happiness lead to pleasure?”