I may go into this in a somewhat more substantive way in a later post but a considerable portion of the political dialogue I hear today is a failure of praxeology, the science of relating ends to means in human action. Typical exchange:
Individual A: The ACA is a bad piece of legislation and unlikely to accomplish its nominal objectives
Individual B: That’s a Republican talking point!
Individual B: You’re opposed to healthcare reform! But the present system is unsustainable.
Individual B: You hate poor/brown/etc. people! You’re a tool of the oligarchy!
Individual A: Invading Afghanistan is imprudent.
Individual B: We can’t just do nothing!
Individual B:: You’re objectively supporting the terrorists!
Yet another exchange:
Individual A: ’Stand Your Ground’ laws will, at the margins, increase the number of violent confrontations.
Individual B: We’ve got to take back the streets from the criminals!
Individual B: I have a natural and legal right to firearms! You’re violating my rights!
I freely confess that Individual A doesn’t always state his or her views so non-agonistically and that Individual B isn’t always that agonistic. However, each of these exchanges illustrates a confusion of ends and means. Sometimes the confusion is the fallacy of false dilemma, sometimes its confusing ends with means, or reflexive ad hominem arguments, or any number of other fallacies.
It is possible to believe that the ACA is bad law, the invasion of Afghanistan was a bad idea, or Stand Your Ground laws may actually make people less secure without opposing healthcare reform, being an objective supporter of terrorism (or a pacifist), or that people should be more secure in their persons and property, respectively. I think we should be discussing and agreeing on objectives and then considering how those objectives can best be accomplished. We’re not doing that.