Argument Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 673 quotes )
The argument that Saddam Hussein was a bad man and had to be removed simply won't do. There are many bad men around the world who run countries and we don't topple them, and, indeed, in earlier years we actually supported Saddam Hussein when he was fighting Iran. The argument that someone is a bad man is an inadequate argument for war and an unacceptable argument for regime change.
So no one cares - and that protects your personal privacy. At least most of the time no one cares. I'm not making the argument that if we're doing nothing wrong, then we shouldn't be afraid of the government monitoring us. That's a stupid, bad argument. We should always be afraid of any government monitoring us. The fact that no one cares what we're talking about is an argument for keeping it that way. We don't want the government to be able to care. Any power you give the government, the government will abuse. George Washington almost said that.
Reader: Will you not admit that you are arguing against yourself? You know that what the English obtained in their own country they obtained by using brute force. I know you have argued that what they have obtained is useless, but that does not affect my argument. They wanted useless things and they got them. My point is that their desire was fulfilled. What does it matter what means they adopted? Why should we not obtain our goal, which is good, by any means whatsoever, even by using violence? Shall I think of the means when I have to deal with a thief in the house? My duty is to drive him out anyhow. You seem to admit that we have received nothing, and that we shall receive nothing by petitioning. Why, then, may we do not so by using brute force? And, to retain what we may receive we shall keep up the fear by using the same force to the extent that it may be necessary. You will not find fault with a continuance of force to prevent a child from thrusting its foot into fire. Somehow or other we have to gain our end. Editor: Your reasoning is plausible. It has deluded many. I have used similar arguments before now. But I think I know better now, and I shall endeavour to undeceive you. Let us first take the argument that we are justified in gaining our end by using brute force because the English gained theirs by using similar means. It is perfectly true that they used brute force and that it is possible for us to do likewise, but by using similar means we can get only the same thing that they got. You will admit that we do not want that. Your belief that there is no connection between the means and the end is a great mistake. Through that mistake even men who have been considered religious have committed grievous crimes. Your reasoning is the same as saying that we can get a rose through planting a noxious weed. If I want to cross the ocean, I can do so only by means of a vessel; if I were to use a cart for that purpose, both the cart and I would soon find the bottom. "As is the God, so is the votary", is a maxim worth considering. Its meaning has been distorted and men have gone astray. The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree. I am not likely to obtain the result flowing from the worship of God by laying myself prostrate before Satan. If, therefore, anyone were to say : "I want to worship God; it does not matter that I do so by means of Satan," it would be set down as ignorant folly. We reap exactly as we sow. The English in 1833 obtained greater voting power by violence. Did they by using brute force better appreciate their duty? They wanted the right of voting, which they obtained by using physical force. But real rights are a result of performance of duty; these rights they have not obtained. We, therefore, have before us in English the force of everybody wanting and insisting on his rights, nobody thinking of his duty. And, where everybody wants rights, who shall give them to whom? I do not wish to imply that they do no duties. They don't perform the duties corresponding to those rights; and as they do not perform that particular duty, namely, acquire fitness, their rights have proved a burden to them. In other words, what they have obtained is an exact result of the means they adapted. They used the means corresponding to the end. If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay you for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation. Thus we see three different results from three different means. Will you still say that means do not matter?
To be sure I was!' Humpty Dumpty said gaily, as she turned it round forhim. 'I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that SEEMSto be done right--though I haven't time to look it over thoroughly justnow--and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four dayswhen you might get un-birthday presents--'Certainly,' said Alice. And only ONE for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't--till I tellyou. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected. When _I_ use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'itmeans just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so manydifferent things.'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master--that'sall.
The fact that the biosphere responds unpredictably to our actions is not an argument for inaction. It is, however, a powerful argument for caution, and for adopting a tentative attitude toward all we believe, and all we do. Unfortunately, our species has demonstrated a striking lack of caution in the past. It is hard to imagine that we will behave differently in the future. We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds--and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own. We are one of only three species on our planet that can claim to be self-aware, yet self-delusion may be a more significant characteristic of our kind.
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist,'" says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.""But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.""Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic."Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
The peculiarity of the evidence of mathematical truths is, that all the argument is on one side. There are no objections, and no answers to objections. But on every subject on which difference of opinion is possible, the truth depends on a balance to be struck between two sets of confliting reasons. Even in natural philosophy, there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true on: and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion. But when we turn to subjects infinitely more complicated, to morals, religion, politics, social relations, and the business of life, three-fourths of the arguments for every disputed opinion consist in dispelling the appearances which favour some opinion different from it.
Neither force, nor argument, nor opinion," said Merlyn with the deepest sincerity, "are thinking. Argument is only a display of mental force, a sort of fencing with points in order to gain a victory, not for truth. Opinions are the blind alleys of lazy or of stupid men, who are unable to think. If ever a true politician really thinks a subject out dispassionately, even Homo stultus will be compelled to accept his findings in the end. Opinion can never stand beside truth. At present, however, Homo impoliticus is content either to argue with opinions or to fight with his fists, instead of waiting for the truth in his head. It will take a million years, before the mass of men can be called political animals.
If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live" were of the same opinion - thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument.
A rationalist, as I use the word, is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps, in certain cases, by compromise, rather than by violence. He is a man who would rather be unsuccessful in convincing another man by argument than successful in crushing him by force, by intimidation and threats, or even by persuasive propaganda.