Clean, Solid Reasoning

Most professional philosophers nowadays seem to be spreading more confusion than clarity.  Now and then, a few sharp minds manage to clean up the mess. Leonard Peikoff is one such example.

He recognized that a basic problem in philosophy is that all the basic concepts seem to depend on each other, and how do you prove one without relying on another, i.e., how do you avoid circular reasoning?

One of the brilliant things he did, that helped my personal understanding of philosophy a lot, is to figure out what the three basic axioms are, as to thinking about anything and everything.  Axioms are the most basic beginning-blocks of all knowledge. They are the basis of all proof. As such, they themselves can’t be proven, but any attempt to disprove one of these axioms relies on the axiom itself and is thus immediately self-defeating.

In debating transsexual-girl issues with the many hostile folks in today’s culture, it’s important for me to be able to think clearly on the subject of transgender girls, specifically transsexual girls.

The subject is coming more and more into the social forefront. Predictably, clueless people are more and more coming forward and stating their uninformed opinions on the subject.

In my experience, uninformed folks tend to be dismissive (or worse) of what they don’t understand, so the clueless folks tend to be pretty mean in what they have to say about transsexual girls.

I have found it useful to begin a conversation or debate with a good logical foundation to the issue:

  1. Define the key concept cleanly
  2. Refer to facts
  3. Draw an inescapable conclusion that my adversary can’t help but accept

Here’s an example:

A. The definition I use for “transsexual girl” is: Someone who has a female brain and was born with male-shaped plumbing.

B: Facts:

  • Fact 1, proven by autopsies: female and male brain structures are structurally different.
  • Fact 2: proven by autopsies: some individuals were found to have a female brain structure and yet they were born with male plumbing.

C: Conclusion: Transsexual girls exist.

Once the parties on both sides of the debate accept that, yes, such people do exist, the discussion is on much more solid ground.

The next point of discussion might be whether or not the person’s brain structure became female due to drinking too much soy milk, or reading one too many issue of Cosmo, or being cursed by a witch, or blessed by an angel … whatever.  Probably you’ll conclude, as I did, that no proof has as yet been found that someone can get a female brain structure except for being born that way.

From there the next logical conclusion is that transsexual girls are born that way.

From there, the discussion can go in any direction, but this provides at least a nice and solid basis for the rest of the conversation.

I hope this helps you! However:

  • None of this helps when I’m talking with unreasonable people, unless I show them up as such in front of reasonable people.
  • When someone is violent or threatens to be, I stop any discussion that individual.  Some more things are proper for me to do then, but this article isn’t about personal self-defense, it’s about philosophy … so I won’t go into that.
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