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Logic

Either-Or

Classic lines like “If you don’t agree, unfriend me now” and “Not voting for [preferred politician] is a vote for [opposing politician]” are very much in style these days due to tribalism on social media and within political circles. These statements contain an implied “you’re either with me or against me”.

Only the Sith deal in absolutes, but by saying this I just made an absolute statement. Hmmm…

While research, observation, and careful interpretation can increase the probability of finding the truth of the matter, logic creates helpful “guardrails” to pursue the truth with validity.

That being said, logic is not the end-all. You can tell the truth in an logically invalid manner, and you can spread a lie in a logically valid manner.

Rather than exploring these issues on the basis of the positions that people declare to be true these days, this article will approach these statements on the basis of their validity.

Simply put, the argument by itself is invalid in most cases.

Just because there are two options does not mean they are the only ones. For example, someone may disagree with your views on immigration, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be your friend anymore. They may have a more-informed opinion (or a less-informed opinion) and still want to be your friend. Demanding that they no longer be your friend is invalid at best, and, if you were misinformed in the process, you risk losing friendships on the basis of a lie.

By design, the Either-Or dogmatism is intolerant. While select issues are definitely worth being intolerant about, it is being abused. However, there are exceptions where Either-Or should be considered valid. Either-Or dogmatism must be limited in scope to whatever you believe to be the ultimate source of truth. For me, that would be both the Old and New Testaments of the Scriptures. If your Either-Or dogma comes from a separate religious source, I would consider it to be untrue, but I would not accuse you of an invalid proposition.

As a cautionary note, I am not saying that this means that all logically-valid opinions are appropriate. A parting thought I would like to share is a quote I memorized from my philosophy professor:

“An economy of the dogmatic is a mark of a mature mind, however a sweeping acceptance [of all ideas] is… a modern cosmopolitan sophistication.”

Dr. Ron Horton

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