Some more direct consideration of comments on my BDS at Brooklyn College and Dershowitz posts (here; here; and here). These are now settling into a familiar pattern of repetition of the same claims again and again and again, so rather than responding to each one of the comments directly, I will address them en masse here; my interlocutors will know who is being addressed. There is an accusation of ad-hominem argument (conveniently made, I suspect, to change the subject and to detract attention from Dershowitz’s bullying and thuggish tactics) and also the ludicrous suggestion that departments not sponsor ‘polarizing’ topics.
The problem, in general, seems to be that the commentators so concerned about logical fallacies, despite being folks apparently capable of writing voluminously, repetitiously and tediously, seem also to lack elementary reading skills. They do not seem to have read my responses to the accusation of ad-hominem argument and neither do they seem to have read Patrick S. O’Donnell’s responses. They seem unaware of the actual understanding, considerably more sophisticated and nuanced and I daresay, literate, than theirs, of fallacies that logicians, philosophers and rhetoricians of all stripes seem to possess. For instance, philosophers of argumentation such as Doug Walton (Toronto) writing on classical fallacies, including ad hominem, have described them as not always fallacious in the ways so quickly imagined. So, as already pointed out by Patrick, I seem rationally justified in being skeptical of claims made by a notorious liar on the ground that these are very likely to be a lie. (Despite my response, I’m heartened by the attention shown to logical fallacies by these commentators; despite their misunderstanding of the concept, the fact that it is even on their radar is a heartening thing.)
But there might be a far more fundamental problem at hand. Despite all the accusations of ad-hominem argumentation, an accusation onto which they have lacked desperately, lacking any point of their own to make in the case actually under consideration (a favored tactic of those unable to address an argument is to change the subject), they have yet to demonstrate that there is an ad-hominem argument at hand. The fact that I describe Dershowitz as a pro-torture plagiarist in the same passage of text where I argue that his characterization of the parameters of debate is a ludicrous one, and that he does not understand the concepts of freedom of speech and academic freedom, does not mean that characterization played any role dismissing his claims. (For instance: ‘You sir, are a knave! Your argument, to which I now turn, is false. Here is how etc…’) As they seem to be so enamored of the accusation, they should please demonstrate systematically, my argument in premise-conclusion form, and point me to the premise that does the ad-hominem work.
Lastly, I have already addressed the claim that the Political Science dept. needs to ensure ‘balance’ or not sponsor ‘polarizing events’ in my post yesterday, so I will not address those claims again. Please read the posts. If you repeat yourself, you are a troll, and I will not feed you.
Note: I’ve just noticed that Patrick S. O’Donnell has responded wonderfully well to the same points as I did above. Thank you.