Friday, September 14, 2007

The value of a socio-economic argument

is exactly equal to the value of the way in which it has been presented. Ravikiran says here that " this kind of fisking, where you quote the article and try to rebut it point by point. The problem with doing this is that there is a high risk of missing the overall point the article is making " is "unfair".

Right. So can I now write an article that goes something like this -

1. Remove poverty : ( some illogical substantiation about how it can be removed)
2. Solve the Kasmir issue : (some more illogical substantiation about how it can be solved)
3. India has to win the cricket world cup (no substantiation, the passion will suffice)
4. World Peace ( no substantiation, a flying kiss should be enough)

and claim that my article was great and those who rebut my substantiation point by point are missing the 'overall point' and being patently unfair?

Socio-economic arguments are not independent of the people who make them and the way in which they have been made. They are unlike the laws of physics, which are true, quite literally, even in vacuum and do not need human observation to be true.

One day, psychology and the cognitive sciences may just provide THE definitive theory(ies) of human behaviour and interaction - a few theoretical attempts have already been made, most notably by Friedrich Hayek who proposed the connectionist hypothesis of cognitive science. Until then, we will just have to consider each theory case by case, assumption by assumption, and implication by implication. The worth of every argument, every article on the society and economics, then, is simply the way in which it has been substantiated, point by point, by the author. One does not have the liberty of saying 'you may be right in your rebuttal you're missing my overall point'. The overall point is nothing but the sum total of all the substantive points, and if each one of them has been attacked, the overall point has been attacked as well. Anyone who wishes to make only the overall point should go easy on the not-so-solid substantiation.

p.s : I find it quite amusing that the one who was criticized is a lot more appreciative of the point by point analysis than the zealous defender. May be he is just modest.

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