Person B no longer has grounds to critique Person A; Person B leaves the discussion. Motte & Bailey Arguments: because defending your actual position is *way* harder than defending a trivial one. Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, famously declared in his acceptance speech, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. These castles, which were quick to build, sprang up all over England during the first years after the Battle of Hastings. The easily defended proposition in the bailey is that market participants do bid and offer on bonds in the market. Thank you! [22] The arguer first states the controversial position, but when challenged, states that they are advancing the modest position. Someone will argue the easy-to-defend position (motte) temporarily, to ward off critics, while the less-defensible position (bailey) remains the desired belief, yet is never actually defended. That’s why I don’t think it’s as much of a motte-and-bailey as the culture war arguments the doctrine was originally written to describe. Our Hometown Then when the argument is over you go back to making the bold, controversial statement. This slight variation of the original may be particularly effective in short-form mediums such as Twitter threads and live debates. In short: instead of defending a weak position (the "bailey"), the arguer retreats to a strong position (the "motte"), while acting as though the positions are equivalent. I am, myself, a historian. So, during attacks, residents would flee the bailey for the motte, where they could ward off enemies. The motte-and-bailey is thus what they are criticizing, not using: whereby one argues “Islam is a broken ideology” (motte) therefore “we should protest the building of mosques in the U.S. and profile all Arabs at airports” (bailey) and © 2017-2020 Roadrunner Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The motte and bailey fallacy is an informal fallacy in which two separate forms of an argument are given and are switched between as necessary in an attempt to confuse or frustrate counterarguments. What I want to call “motte-building” is the linguistic leg-work necessary to make a kind of motte and bailey argument without having to change ones’ wording when confronted. Metaphilosophy. In the “motte and bailey” style of argument, a proponent argues for a strong claim but then retreats to a much weaker claim under pressure form counterarguments. They may be different sides of the same coin. But this is a move from the bailey to the motte. With "believe victims," the bailey position was something like what Biden and Clinton said: Presume that each and every alleged victim is telling the truth. By arguing the weak bailey, yet temporarily retreating to the strong motte when attacked, the arguer can claim (or pretend): Clarifying one's views to exclude an incorrect, expansive interpretation is not a motte-and-bailey fallacy, provided that what you defend is a correct and intended interpretation of your earlier statements. It was easily defended, but not a pleasant place to live. Strictly, this is true — the arguer never explicitly admitted defeat. Your email address will not be published. The absence of a middle ground in the debates of the day is largely what accounts for the toxic nature of what passes for discourse in this country. I am not the inventor of the term, in this context. The term "motte and bailey" was created by Nicholas Shackel, a British professor of philosophy. Fx wrote: Perhaps I was not very clear, so let me clarify what I meant. A doctrine, however, is a body of propositions, not an argument. The concept was invented by Nicholas Shackel , and was popularised by Scott Alexander . Report. Or, conversely, the near Marxist Bernie Sanders nearly clinches the nomination as a Democrat earlier this year when, he too, had no history as a Democrat. Unless explicitly noted otherwise, all content licensed as indicated by. This second reading allows the phrase to act as a right-wing dog whistle. But this is a move from the bailey to the motte. Usually, someone will put forward the bailey — something controversial — and retreat to the motte when attacked. That the critic is a fool for not agreeing with an obviously correct statement. Person A asserts that they were actually defending [Common-Sense Interpretation of Viewpoint X]. Motte and Bailey castles were first built in Normandy. It’ll start out in an argument about equality. So the motte-and-bailey doctrine is when you make a bold, controversial statement. Shackel said a motte and bailey argument is one intended “to insinuate an exciting falsehood, which is a desired doctrine, yet permit retreat to the trivial truth when pressed by an opponent.” In the first meaning, it starts with a tautology, as "strong" is synonymous with doing what is good for society. That the arguer never admitted to being wrong about anything. No argument there. I’ve been around enough and been friends with enough that I know how their minds work and while it’s not how my mind works, I respect their opinions. . The term “Motte and Bailey” has become rather popular in recent years to describe a certain style of argument wherein an arguer strategically equivocates between a boring but easily defensible claim and a more radical but indefensible claim. Person A asserts [Controversial Interpretation of Viewpoint X]. These crude castles were called Motte & Bailey structures. However, his quote is an example of a Motte & Bailey argument, exemplified by the assumption that there is no middle ground. And, weak men create hard times.” This phrase uses multiple meanings of the word "strong" to make itself mean different things to different people. But this is a move from the bailey to the motte. The Motte & Bailey argument from one end of the spectrum would be: “You don’t believe in science” or “You want my grandmother to die.” The arguments from the other end would be, “Making me wear a mask is tyranny” or “COVID is a hoax.” Required fields are marked *. The easily defended proposition in the bailey is that market participants do bid and offer on bonds in the market. The New York Times even went so far as to launch the "1619 Project," in which its motte is a … You’re just a white guy who doesn’t want to give up power!”, Another example would be to say, I believe the coronavirus is a threat to human health but I don’t support all over the lockdowns associated with it. In it the person making the argument makes a wild claim that is hard to support, and upon pushback, retreats to a much easier to defend position. Shackel 2005 'The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology.' Shackel named it after the motte-and-bailey castle, in which a highly-protected stone-fortified keep (the motte) is accompanied by an enclosed courtyard protected by sharpened wooden palisades (the bailey). The motte and bailey was a form of defensive structure in which a protected walled area surrounded a much stronger keep. Your email address will not be published. When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, he brought this castle design with him. Increasingly, these motte and bailey arguments are taking over leftist media. The motte and bailey fallacy is an informal fallacy in which two separate forms of an argument are given and are switched between as necessary in an attempt to confuse or frustrate counterarguments. When under attack, the people retreated to the inner motte. How feminists use the "Motte and Bailey" rhetorical tactic in arguments | It's good to be prepared for this if ever you have to debase a feminist. We are talking about the Motte and Bailey Fallacy. The Motte & Bailey argument from one end of the spectrum would be: “You don’t believe in science” or “You want my grandmother to die.” The arguments from the other end would be, “Making me wear a mask is tyranny” or “COVID is a hoax.”. Another is that the monetary system is fine because GDP and the stock market are rising. The second part, that good times create people who are selfish and lazy, is pessimistic and non-obvious, but easy enough to defend by using unfalsifiable tactics to argue that "your counterexample just hasn't been experiencing Good Times for long enough yet.". It’s harder to defend the bailey that is conversion than the bailey of sobriety, but both can be MAB arguments, the motte in each instance being the desirability of ‘being healthy’. Someone who says that perhaps society should look at police reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd but doesn’t support “defunding,”  might find himself defending against, “Oh, you don’t support law enforcement” on the one hand, and on the other, “Black lives don’t matter to you! But this is a move from the bailey to the motte. That is, the argument is that hard times lead to a strong military, this well-defended country experiences prosperity, and then those darned pacifists come out and ruin everything. You also get members of each party who so focus on what they personally dislike about each other that they can’t negotiate compromises, even if they might be for the good of the country. If it were, then why did the Fed have to become the pawn shop of last resort? DMCA NoticesNewspaper web site content management software and services. Another is that the monetary system is fine because GDP and the stock market are rising. Strong men create good times. A Motte and Bailey castle is a medieval system of defence in which a stone tower on a mound (the Motte) is surrounded by an area of pleasantly habitable land (the Bailey), which in turn is encompassed by some sort of a barrier, such as a ditch. GDP and the S&P index are observable numbers that anyone can see. 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